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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 September 2014

Planning, not competition, to meet our transport needs

Unite 'Save Our Buses' rally, photo Paul Mattsson

Unite 'Save Our Buses' rally, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Apparently, outside London where bus use is expanding, fewer people than ever are using buses because of rising prices. A 'centre-left' think tank has produced a report that criticises bus privatisation and deregulation. But it fails to call for public ownership.

High bus fares and infrequent services may make buses an unattractive option but the arguments for increasing 'competition' have been shown in practice to be a failure.

Competing companies try to undercut each other bidding for routes by attacking their workers' conditions and, from the quality of some buses I've travelled on recently, saving on cleaning and perhaps even maintenance.

Is this better for the passenger? No. There have to be concerns about safety when firms compete to undercut one another to secure contracts.

Are they making savings on maintenance, cleaning, over-working drivers? The bus on one leg of my journey to and from work didn't seem to get cleaned for about a fortnight, judging by the mud, twigs and leaves littering the floor.

Far from reducing prices, competition massively increased the cost of my daily travel. I have to catch two buses and one firm used to provide both services, making it possible to buy a single ticket for the whole journey. But they lost the contract with the council for one of them.

Neither firm now accepts each other's tickets, resulting in a near doubling of the price I pay to get to work and back.

I live in a Labour council under a Welsh Labour Government. Both pay lip-service to the idea of an integrated transport policy to provide a better, more environmentally friendly service to the public. Yet both slashed subsidies for buses as they passed on Con-Dem cuts.

It's not competition but planning that's needed for public transport. It has to be run as a public service not a profit opportunity for cowboy operators.

Public transport could be efficient, cost-effective and reduce massively our impact on the environment but for that to happen it needs to be publicly owned and democratically controlled.

Written on a bus to work by a Socialist Party Wales member

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In The Socialist 3 September 2014:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Stop the Con-Dems destroying our NHS!

Pre-election Britain - crisis brewing on all fronts

Rotherham: Council and police cover up abuse

Democratic rights attack under 'fighting terror' guise

Clacton Tory MP defects to Ukip

Them & Us

Socialist Party youth and students

Fourfold rise in youth on poverty pay

Fast Food Rights: ‘Get the pink T-shirt lady out of here!’

Join the fight for free education and student grants!

Wales: Save the Financial Contingency Fund

International socialist news and analysis

Ukraine conflict ratchets up the international crisis

Tamil Solidarity Day - building unity to fight oppression

Socialist Party workplace news

Strike to save the NHS

Council proposes worst cuts in living memory

Romford sparks victory over 'umbrella' scheme

Teachers want action from their trade union

Care UK workers continue fight for decent pay

Ritzy cinema workers continue living wage struggle

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Victory for disabled transport campaign

New member thirsts for knowledge

Protesting against police racism

Solidarity Street

Fighting Huddersfield library cuts

Anti-racist day of action: 18 September

Rally for history's longest strike

The Socialist readers' comments

Planning, not competition, to meet our transport needs

Challenging Ukip's lies

Football fans angry at prices


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Related links:

Public transport:

triangleOnline rally: Fight the London transport funding cuts!

triangleTransport workers and passengers mustn't pay the price

triangleNo increase in transport capacity without adequate safety precautions

triangleNationalise the railways: For an integrated public transport system

triangleBristol North Socialist Party: Public transport congestion. Where now?


triangleFight continues for safety on London buses

triangleTransport union RMT tells members: refuse to work in unsafe conditions

triangleLondon transport: Reject the ‘choice’ of safety or revenue

triangleRMT: Lift the suspension of Steve Hedley


triangleSocialist planning is the alternative

triangleCoronavirus: socialist planning, not capitalist chaos!

triangleLeeds Socialist Party: How would socialist planning work?


triangleCoronavirus: international cooperation needed, not capitalist competition

triangleReject the mega-supermarket merger: nationalise to save jobs


triangleLondon bus drivers' action over safety stops front door boarding


triangleEngage for Change Hull - trade union youth festival goes online

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