News that Stagecoach are to reduce the frequency of their profitable Number 11 service illustrates the need for radical reforms of our bus market according to North Ayrshire Labour.
A number of local bus services have been cut in recent years but the reduction in frequency of the Number 11, the most profitable bus route in Ayrshire, is the sign of a broken, profit-driven market.
North Ayrshire Labour have set out ambitions for a Municipal Bus Service, a not-for-profit model run by North Ayrshire Council which would allow bus services to be shaped based on community need rather than shareholder returns. However, the current drafting of the Scottish Government’s Transport Bill would make the ambition almost impossible – only allowing Councils to run services that private bus companies don’t want to run.
Labour say the SNP’s Bill will leave bus profits in the hands of private shareholders whilst leaving the public purse to pick up the loss making scraps.
Speaking on the reduction to the 11 service, Labour Councillor Robert Foster said;
“A reduction of up to 30% in the frequency of the Number 11, the most profitable bus route in Ayrshire, is yet another sign of a broken bus market that is failing to deliver for local communities.
“Recent years has saw a whole host of local bus services in North Ayrshire cut by Stagecoach in their thirst to deliver financial profits to their private shareholders. These cuts are not without impact, with many vulnerable people now more socially isolated than ever before.
“Now it appears that even the most profitable route aren’t safe.
“North Ayrshire Labour has ambitions for a better way. A Municipal Bus service, run in the interests of people not profit. Unfortunately, the SNP’s current Transport Bill would leave bus profits in the hands of private shareholders whilst leaving Councils to pick up the loss making services. Labour will fight to change that Bill to deliver a bus market that works for the many, not the shareholder few.”