Full Council today endorsed Labour Mayor Marvin Rees’ efforts to negotiate a Bus Deal for Bristol to double the proportion of the city’s bus journeys, in line with his State of the City speech in October 2018, as well as confirming the administration’s opposition to the proposed bus fare hike.
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Kye Dudd (Labour’s Cabinet Member for Transport) said:
“Labour are negotiating a landmark Bus Deal to double the frequency of services and invest in transport infrastructure, alongside pushing forward to deliver an underground/overground mass transit system.
“Building on around 100 new bio-gas buses secured, the retrofitting of scores more, and £20 million of Labour investment in upgrading the vehicles of the council, waste company, and Lord Mayor, we will also ensure that the whole fleet is upgraded to reduce pollution.
“We’re moving forward when it comes to transport, as Full Council agreed tonight.”
Notes to Editor
Labour strengthened a Lib Dem motion to clarify that an established economy-of-scale operator (in this case First) would remain the outright favourite under a franchising model, and with considerable financial risks to councils through the process. Councillor Dudd’s amendment also noted that when Councillor Hopkins and the Lib Dems were in charge of transport, the re-tendering of all routes at once resulted in all contracts going back to First and at a higher cost to council taxpayers.
During the meeting, Councillor Dudd and Mayor Rees reiterated Labour’s position within the Bus Deal negotiations to deliver free travel for young people.
Labour also highlighted that its three city MPs (pre-2017 election) had backed efforts for franchising powers to be given to all local councils, not just Combined Authorities. This means that only WECA, not Bristol City Council, can franchise as described by the motion. Around a dozen municipal bus companies still operate across the country, with some of the highest passenger satisfaction ratings out of anyone. Labour’s motion also called for municipalisation to be explored, in line with national party policy.
Bristol has seen a 40% rise in bus passenger journeys since 2009/10, compared to a 40% fall in English metropolitan areas outside of London in the last 25 years. London, fully franchised at a cost of £722 million in subsidies, has seen TfL bus passenger numbers fall by 162 million since 2014/15. Greater Manchester’s report into franchising – of which the business plan could be rejected by Government, or take several years to begin to implement – cost around £15 million.
- Labour’s amendment to the motion: https://democracy.bristol.gov.uk/documents/b18350/Amendments%20to%20Motions%20recevied%2016th-Jul-2019%2017.00%20Full%20Council.pdf?T=9
- Funding boost of £2.2 million to cut bus emissions across Bristol, Bath and South Gloucestershire;
- Another funding boost puts Bristol and Bath buses on time for a clean fleet by 2020.