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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 October 2006, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Politics Show: New powers over buses...

Bus
A sign of the times?

The Politics Show reported, back in June, that the government was thinking of re-regulating the buses outside London.

And last week, Douglas Alexander, the Transport Secretary, told Labour's conference that the government will partially re-regulate buses.

Announcing plans to give local authorities new powers over private bus companies, he will effectively reverse the deregulation of bus services which took place in the 1980s.

Passengers decline

In June, we reported from Manchester, where Politics Show viewer Pete Thurlow told us that too many operators were fighting for passengers and that re-regulation was the only answer.

With the big bus companies concentrating on the profitable routes and being able to abandon services they can not make money on, overall passenger numbers have plummeted.

Blind man and dog exiting a bus
Well run services are a vital asset for the blind

In Manchester, they are down 43% since the 80s, and in South Yorkshire the fall was 68%.

Meanwhile in London, bus use has increased, and is up nearly 55%.

However, in some places, like Brighton, York and Oxford bus use has increased since deregulation.

Bureaucracy clogs the wheels

The government will likely face opposition from bus companies and others who oppose re-regulation.

And they will have to answer the question put by Dr. Eamonn Butler, from the Adam Smith Institute, who said: "Who's better to understand and serve the local demand for transport than the people who're actually on the ground running bus services?

They know much more about it than people in distant town halls and county halls. So why have bureaucrats run these things?"

Join Jon Sopel and guests for the Politics Show on Sunday 01 October 2006 at 13:35 BST on BBC One.

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26 Sep 06 |  Politics Show


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