Ashfield and Eastwood MP Gloria De Piero has raised the issue of poor bus services in her constituency in a parliamentary debate on bus services.
Gloria opposed a proposal put forward by the Government which would mean that only areas with directly elected Mayors, such as Greater Manchester, can regulate buses.
This would mean that authorities such as Nottinghamshire County Council would have to apply to the Secretary of State for Transport before they could consider implementing franchising – limiting what councils can do to provide bus services in areas where they are needed.
Gloria told the committee: “Selston is a rural parish in my constituency. People have to turn down jobs in Nottingham because there is no bus service to get them back at night, and an elderly gentleman cannot get back from his beloved Nottingham Forest on a Saturday evening if there is a late afternoon kick-off.
“Why would my constituents have to apply to the Secretary of State to control their bus services and routes when others would not?”
Gloria also raised the issue of high bus fares and the effects this has on commuters as another reason why local authorities need the power to intervene in bus services.
She said: “I have a constituent who travels from Eastwood to West Bridgford, which is a journey of about 11 miles. She works in administration and earns about £15,000 a year. It costs her £9 a day to get to work and back.
“That sort of rip-off bus fare is why it is important that local politicians have some say over the bus services that companies are providing.”
Speaking after the debate, Gloria reiterated her belief that buses in Nottinghamshire need to be re-regulated so that locally-elected councillors and the communities they represent can choose the bus services, routes and times they need, rather than these being chosen purely on potential profit.
She said: “Bus deregulation has been a total disaster and has delivered the opposite of what was promised – rather than more competition and lower fares, we have no competition and higher fares.
“Local communities need to have a much greater say over the operation of bus services in their area, and this Bill could go some way to re-regulating the bus industry.
“But the powers to re-regulate local bus services should be available to all areas that want them – not just to combined authorities with an elected mayor.
“It is outrageous that there are so few services in rural areas, especially in the evening and at weekends. I’ve had Selston residents who have had to turn down jobs in Nottingham because they can’t get home after a late shift. This is unacceptable in this day and age.”
Since buses were deregulated in 1986, bus passenger numbers outside London (where bus services remain regulated) have plummeted.
In the East Midlands in 1985/86, 285 million passenger journeys on local bus services were made. This went down to 198 million in 2015/16 – a fall of just over 30 per cent.
According to the Department for Transport’s local bus fares index, bus fares in England, outside London, have risen by over 156 per cent between 1995 and 2016. The retail price index rose by 77 per cent over the same period, which means bus fares have risen in real terms.