FROM being a lifeline to the elderly to a necessity to young families struggling to make ends meet (with multiple jobs in the gig economy or on zero hours contracts) bus provision is an issue which should be a priority for candidates in the current election. Many organisations from Age Concern, through the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) to the Regional TUC are calling for urgent action to address the present disastrous situation caused by privatisation and deregulation - passenger numbers have plummeted, prices risen (55% over inflation) and routes shrunk - one pensioner told me that from having four busses an hour there is only one now - not much fun if you have gone shopping in central Keighley, missed your bus and have to wait another hour on a freezing January afternoon! All due to bus companies being able to dictate prices, routes and timetables - while trousering profits underpinned by public subsidy - our taxes!

There is a solution which has already been adopted by the Greater Manchester Mayor and that is Franchising, bringing buses under public control. In London this has led to passenger numbers doubling thanks to more reliable and frequent services, with innovations such as a £1.50 flat fare and being able to change busses without having to pay again. Instead of subsidising shareholders so called unprofitable routes could be subsidised by the more profitable ones (now it is just too bad if you have to work late after 6pm in Leeds and have to get back to Skipton!). Other benefits would include keeping and improving Access bus provision, helping Climate Change and making maintenance more affordable. The Yorkshire Mayor will have the power to implement changes such as franchising so voters might ask themselves which candidate will be most likely to do so when casting your vote in the Mayoral election.

Sandy MacPherson

Leamington Terr