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Mimic Transport for London, and get lower bus fares

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Millions of bus passengers outside London are getting overcharged as local authorities do not have the necessary powers to control fares, the Institute of Public Policy Research has warned in its report “Greasing the Wheels” (Mark Rowney and Will Straw, August 2014).

[“Bus fares soar due to ‘lack of local powers’, Dom Browne, Transport Network, 26 August 2014]

Fares in England outside the capital have increased at least a third more than inflation in the past two decades […] This has hit many of the country’s poorest the hardest as they rely on buses the most.

Outside London fares increased by 35% above inflation between 1995 and 2013, by 34% in Wales and 20% in Scotland, with a lack of local competition also preventing prices being held in check.

In response IPPR has called on the Government to give greater powers and responsibilities to local bodies to shape local bus markets replicating the Transport for London (TfL) model at the city-region and combined authority level.

So, if other areas had TfL-style authorities and subsidies, their citizens could enjoy the lower bus fare increases of the capital.

Unfortunately, the evidence from the Office of National Statistics and Department for Transport suggests that

  • in London, fare increases in recent years have not been much different from other English metropolitan areas;
  • fare increases in shire counties were substantially lower than in metropolitan areas.
Bus fare increases in and outside London

Bus fare increases in and outside London

In other words, areas without passenger transport authorities had the lowest fare increases — the opposite of the impression given by the IPPR.

This does not mean that there is no useful role for municipal involvement in local transport. But it does mean that things are way more complicated than Mr Rowney and Mr Straw would suggest.


Written by beleben

August 27, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Posted in Local government, London

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