I do not know if it is just me or not, but not a week seems to go by these days without some new plan for the bus Industry. Some might be viewed as good, some as bad, but clearly the humble bus has yet again appeared on the political stage. This time Mr Corbyn and his crew are intending to give councils that decide to operate their own bus Companies and services to offer free travel to young people under the age of 25, which would be funded by road tax.
Now part of my strong socialist principles very much like the idea that youngsters are encouraged to use the bus by not having to pay for it. It is after all a big part of that process of independence that we all go through in our teenage years, when we pluck up the courage to catch the us and meet our friends. I have always believed in a society where no one should be excluded from travel the Omnibus after all means for all men and women. However as a veteran of over 30 years of operating privatised bus Companies I just wonder what the implications might be on the present day incumbent bus Companies.
The Labour party take the view that bus Companies have purely been run for private not for people, I do not agree with this assumption, from what I have observed the people running the buses in the UK have sought where ever possible to maintain socially neccesary services where they can. This is of course against a backdrop of Local Authorities who have had to accept savage cuts in public spending over the length of the austerity years since 2008.
Labour reckon that young people have been hit hardest as a result of the recession with lower paid jobs and dwindling chances of buying their own property. Mr Corbyn feels that this is unfair and that the rich bus barrens need to be dispensed with, and Local Authorities take control for their own local bus services, routes and fares. Labour claim that this bold move would help 13 million young people save a £1,000 a year based on the average price of a bus ticket in the UK. This also assumes that they will make an average of 10 journeys a week. The cost of the scheme they estimate will be £1.4 billion a year which will be funded by taking out one fifth of the money received each year from vehicle excise duty, an estimated £6.7 billion every year.
So, we will have to wait and see just what will happen at the next election. Mr Corbyn certainly struck the right chord with the young voters at the last election, much to Mrs May’s surprise and her Tory faithful. The promise to scrap tuition fees and now the offer of free bus travel can only make his appeal even greater, although the Tories have slagged it all off as being a vote grabbing gimmick that will never actually happen. However, in these strange days of Brexit, Putin, Zuckerburg and Trump, it is apparent that anything is possible. And who knows what other bus related schemes Jezzer may come up with when next he is working on his allotment.