Bath’s MP Wera Hobhouse seems to have got the usual non-committal response when she tackled the Government over the city’s failing bus service.
In a question to the Department for Transport, Mrs Hobhouse asked when Bath constituents can expect bus services to be returned to at least pre-pandemic levels.
Bath has been hit with several rounds of bus cuts. The most recent came into effect in April and saw eleven routes with journeys changed or cancelled.
The Government announced a funding package in an attempt to bridge the gap but this is due to run out in October. Bath’s bus services fall under the jurisdiction of the West of England Combined Authority. Wera and her Liberal Democrat colleagues on Bath & North East Somerset Council have been campaigning to save Bath’s buses.
In a question to the Department for Transport, Wera mentioned services affected by the cuts which include the 1, 2, 3, 3A routes as well as services that run to the University of Bath and Bath Spa. including the U1, U2, U5 and D2.
Speaking after the debate, Wera Hobhouse MP said:
“The Conservatives have decimated local bus services and are refusing to pay attention to bus users’ needs. It’s unacceptable that buses are being slashed at a time we should be encouraging people to use public transport.
“Time and time again this Conservative Government has broken its promises. People across Bath and the South West are suffering as a result of their incompetence. The cuts to services will have a huge impact on the people of Bath and the Conservatives are refusing to listen.
“We need a long-term plan to provide sustainable bus services. What was worrying is that the questions were dominated by MPs from across the country concerned about their local bus services. When is the Government going to stop burying its head in the sand and bring back bus services not only for Bath residents but for residents across the country?”
Here’s that full exchange below:
Wera Hobhouse MP
“Well, we are back to buses. My local bus company is really struggling. Numbers 1, 2, 3, 3A cut. 19, 22, 39 cut. U1, U2, U5 and D2 all cut at a time when we must offer people proper alternatives to car travel. When can my constituents expect bus services back to at least pre-pandemic levels? “
Andrew Stephenson MP, Minister of State (Department for Transport)
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, we provided huge support for bus services across the country during the pandemic, but I would like to just remind the honorable lady that since the Conservatives came to power, in 2010, annual support for buses has been 15% higher in real terms than it was under Labour and bus fares rose far faster under the last Labour government. This government supports buses and bus users and we will continue to invest in bus services across the country.“
This Government don’t seem to accept that months and months exhorting people NOT to use public transport has not unreasonably meant that people turned to cars. This takes time to reverse and in the meantime bus and train services must be maintained so that there remains an alternative to car use.
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