So , now that the dust has settled on the 2018 UK Bus summit held in London last week it is probably worth while taking some time to stop and reflect upon just what was achieved by the assembled throng of the great and the good.The event had several very positive outcomes but the two that really stood out for me were as follows. The first was the introduction of the new transport Minister, if honest an MP that I have never heard of before, her name is Nusrat Ghani MP, however no real surprise as the transport Minister has always been something of a poisoned chalice in political circles.
Indeed it used to be a standing joke that being appointed as a transport minister was only marginally better than being appointed as the agriculture and fisheries minister. In fairness it used to be the case that the transport minister changed as often as you change your socks. Although to be fair and positive we have over the last few years been fortunate to have some really good Ministers, including the Chancellor Andrew Hammond, but the best by far was Norman Baker, an honest and dedicated champion of the bus cause, he continues even now to be a strong advocate and champion of the benefits of the bus, as well as a rather good musician.
The new Minister certainly said all the right things in this her first formal speech since being appointed, she admitted to being a ‘a huge advocate for buses” she continued ‘The industry is indispensable. No other form of transport offers anything like the benefits that you offer”.All really good stuff that certainly gave me a good feeling.She went by saying ‘buses provide a unique answer to most of the local challenges that we face, but they are often taken for granted. That is something that I want to change with your support. I want to champion bus and coach.”
Clearly someone who believes the same as me and many others, and to add a bit of real support she then announced that the government was funding £40 million to allow 20 Local Authorities to retrofit buses with clean technology. All of which is fantastic news for the UK Bus industry. However, whilst I naturally applaud her passion and commitment to the bus as the only solution to congestion and tackling air quality, This is the same government that has seen widespread reduction in rural bus services that is now resulting in real social deprivation in isolated communities where the the lonely, old, and vulnerable are being cut off from society. I would love to see her energy look forwards to finding a solution to help those in society who need the bus and coach the most, actually get access to the good old bus and coach. It is to quote an old Spandau ballet song ‘A Lifeline”.