IN last week’s letters, Councillor Dawson concluded his letter on local bus travel (Solutions needed on routes for our buses) with a plea for ideas to solve the problem.

As this is an important subject for those who rely on buses, often the old or vulnerable in society who without good public transport are likely to be isolated, I hope that the Herald will allow some space to discuss the issue.

The bus industry is in crisis. Usage in the Yorkshire and Humber region is 35 per cent of what it was pre-Covid levels. The Yorkshire Post recently reported that North Yorkshire political leaders are asking the government for £35 million for a radical overhaul. This is a recognition that Thatcher’s de regulation of the bus industry has been a complete failure. Before the Covid crisis passenger travel by bus had declined by 42 million miles in Yorkshire alone. Councils in Yorkshire and the Humber region are subsidising 12 million miles less than 2014, so even if usage rises to the pre Covid level it is still a pale shadow of what it could and should be. For example, in our area there is no bus service to Harrogate.

There are good reasons why as a society we should encourage bus usage. It is necessary for those who cannot use a car, it is greener than car travel and increasing public transport use reduces congestion. If we are going to use public money, then the taxpayer should have the benefit. This means public ownership with the subsidies benefitting all, rather than funnelling public money into the pockets of shareholders. Currently trade unions in West Yorkshire are campaigning for buses to be taken into public ownership. We should join them in North Yorkshire and call for buses here to be publicly owned. The alternative is more cutbacks in service.

Within Skipton, the current problems could be solved with a dedicated local service using small vehicles. This could serve the routes currently inadequately covered as well as linking Carleton and Embsay. To be useful it must be frequent, this would of course cost money, so we would need money from the government.

It must be said to those complaining about poor bus provision, if you voted Conservative it is what you voted for. If you really want good, environmentally friendly public transport then you need to vote Labour.

Brian McDaid

Assistant General Secretary,

Aegis the Union