Letter: Bus chaos: legal diversions, surplus and scarcity

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The Independent Online
Sir: Bus deregulation has been an even bigger disaster than Christian Wolmar indicates.

The consequent decline in bus patronage in South Yorkshire, where fares have moved from low to high, has been almost matched in Greater Manchester, where they have moved from high to even higher. The Government told us that fares would fall under the pressure of competition. They also told us that this was not a money-saving exercise, but was simply about increasing efficiency.

Yet government support has fallen dramatically and the surplus in daytime services (which entails all buses operating at the very margin of profitability) contrasts with evening and Sunday scarcity.

Even though competition has driven down the price of subsidised services (on a cost per vehicle- mile basis), the money available for buying in these services has been brutally slashed, mainly because of the abolition of Passenger Transport Authorities' right to precept upon ring-fenced money formerly granted to local authorities for public transport.

If rail 'commercialisation' provokes a similar boost for private car use, then we shall be well on the way to permanent gridlock.

Yours sincerely,

ALLAN HORSFALL

Chairman

The Bus Users' Society

Farnworth, Lancashire

18 January

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