Monday, November 15, 1999 Published at 18:36 GMT
Prescott promises better buses
Bus use has risen for the first time in years
The government has promised to rid buses of their "second rate" image by providing a clean, comfortable, modern and efficient fleet within two years.
Mr Prescott said companies would be obliged to cut cancellations to just 0.5% of services by autumn 2001 - the equivalent of two disrupted journeys a year for passengers who make daily return trips.
Operators failing to meet the target will be "named and shamed", he said.
Mr Prescott said: "Buses offer the cheapest, most comprehensive and accessible form of transport in the UK, but they too often fall short of passenger expectations.
"It is time to turn our backs on an era characterised by poor marketing, poor quality buses, confusing networks, inflexible ticketing and constant timetable changes."
Mr Prescott also announced further investment in London's bus services, which, while privatised, are the only ones still regulated by a central body - London Transport.
Services outside of the capital were deregulated in the mid-1980s.
However, Conservative Transport Spokesman Bernard Jenkin dismissed the bus summit as a publicity stunt that failed to address the real issues.
The transport summit followed the Government's publication earlier this year of a "daughter" document to its transport White Paper.
This document was entitled From Workhorse to Thoroughbred: A Better Role for Bus Travel.
Among policies explored were:
Last year saw the first increase in passenger numbers outside the capital for more than 40 years.