Posts Tagged ‘Accidents’

‘I’ Reports Labour Intends to Renationalise Local Bus Services

November 20, 2019

There was an article by Hugo Gye in yesterday’s edition of the I for 19th November 2019, reporting that the Labour party is planning to renationalise the local bus services, which were privatised in the 1980s by Maggie Thatcher. The article runs

Labour will open the door to the nationalisation of England’s buses if it gets into power in next month’s election, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

The party would give all councils the right to take control of their local bus services and give free bus travel to anyone aged under 25.

The move, which will form part of the Labour manifesto when it is published this week, is the latest in a string of nationalisations announced by Mr Corbyn. But bus industry officials insisted it would do little to improve services.

Speaking at the CBI conference in London yesterday, the Labour leader said he would encourage individual councils to take direct control of bus networks when franschise contracts expired. He added: “We need to integrate bus and rail services, we need to re-empower local authorities to develop bus services if they wish.”

The plan – which would apply only to England because transport policy is devolved – would give councils that right to remove franchises from private companies such as Stagecoach, Go-Ahead and FirstGroup. The nation’s bus network was privatised and deregulated by Margaret Thatcher in the 80s, although in London it is still heavily regulated by the city’s mayor.

Katy Taylor, commercial and customer director at Go-Ahead, said: “The biggest issues we face are congestion and council cuts, and regulation would do little to solve either of these. While bus usage continues to fluctuate in some parts of the country, our experience in cities like Brighton – where ridership is higher than anywhere else outside of London – shows that public and private sector working together is the best way to deliver a transport service.”

Labour’s bus policies are similar to its rail nationalisation scheme, in which each train franchise would be brought into public ownership as soon as its current contract expired.

The party has pledged to nationalise a number of public services if it wins on 12 December. This would including buying the country’s water system and the National Grid.

This is great news, as the bus service we currently have in my bit of Bristol is appalling. The bus company has cut services and I’ve heard that they regard it as a country route, even though it is actually within the city limits. People have complained to the council and the bus company, FirstBus, but all they got were letters from each blaming the other.

I was at school when Thatcher privatised the buses, and can remember the immediate effect. The new, deregulated bus company immediately reorganised the bus routes to send its buses down one of the major roads into town. The result wasn’t greater efficiency, but less. The buses were caught in the traffic jams that built up, so that buses that should have got all the schoolkids from my bit of south Bristol into school in town well before the 9 O’clock bell got in much later.

And FirstBus’ reputation in Bristol generally is so low, that the company has acquired the nickname ‘WorstBus’.

The much vaunted competition that Tories claim will always improve services hasn’t worked either. There has been an alternative bus company set up, and for a while that ran some good services to our part of Bristol. But these also seem to have disappeared or been cut back.

There are some excellent bus services run by charities, but people should not have to rely on volunteer organisations for a good, efficient bus service. Clearly the buses in Bristol need the support of local authorities, because privatise enterprise alone simply isn’t up to the job. It seems that the bus companies are too interested in creating a profit for their shareholders than providing a service for their customers. Indeed, the greed and profiteering by the directors of the newly privatised companies, like Ann Gloag, and the shabby way they treated their workers, customers and people they’d hit in accidents, was so bad that every fortnight Private Eye seemed to be running a story about them.

The local bus company in Bristol wasn’t brilliant by any means when it was under council ownership, but it was better than what followed with privatisation. Thatcher’s policy of privatisation and deregulation of public services has been a miserable failure right across the board. It’s ‘zombie economics’, and the only reason it hasn’t been put in the grave long ago is that the rich 1% – including the media barons boosting the policy – massively profit from it. While the rest of us have to put up with substandard services.

It’s time to vote the Tories out, and bring in someone who will improve public services in this country. And that person is Jeremy Corbyn.

 

Site for the Renationalisation of British Rail

March 17, 2016

I found the following advert on the back page of Private Eye’s issue for the first fortnight in May last year (2015).

Bring Back BR pic

I tried out the website, and yes, as I write Bring Back British Rail is still going at the web address, bringbackbritishrail.org. If you go there, you’ll find a petition, which you can sign requesting the government to renationalise and unify the railway. I’ve signed it, because I’m heartily fed up with the many times I’ve spent waiting for delayed trains. During the 1970’s and ’80s, British Rail was frequently the butt of jokes on comedy programmes like the Two Ronnies. The nationalised rail service had a reputation for running late, poor service and quite appalling food. Its privatisation under John Major was supposed to sort all that out.

In fact the opposite happened. The service has continued to deteriorate. It is still marred by delays and poor maintenance. Moreover, the actually cost to the public has increased. The British taxpayer is now paying more in subsidies to the privatised rail companies that it did under British Rail. I can also remember talking to a disgusted railway instructor about 20 years ago, who was appalled at how the service had declined. He maintained that in the last days of British Rail, when the service was managed under the slogan Operating For Quality the railways were more efficient than at any time since they were nationalised. That achievement was wiped out after it was privatised.

He was also disgusted with the evasions and stonewalling given to the victims and the families of the victims of several major rail disasters. He stated that under British Rail, when accidents like these occurred, the company admitted responsibility, then set to work to correct the errors and failures that had produced them. After privatisation, the network was split into at least five major train operators, as well as a separate company that owned the track. And each one was passing the buck to the other after these disasters, so that it had been five years after one very serious accident, and the responsibility for the crash had still not been settled, let alone compensation for the injured and bereaved.

He was as disgusted as you or I.

So, I signed the petition. If you have a similar design to reverse this particular failure of John Major’s time at Number Ten, please feel free to go to the above site and add your name.

I think the food on sale at railway stations has improved, though. But it’s the only thing that has.