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Where are our buses?

December 3, 2019 1:51 PM
Originally published by Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

By Hannah Perkin, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Faversham & Mid Kent

Our roads are jammed, our towns are choked with fumes. But hardly anyone takes the bus these days. Why?

Wheres my busIn the past few weeks I have visited many areas in the Faversham & Mid Kent constituency. I have usually had to travel by car. It is just impossible to get around by bus or other public transport. Lenham is just 10 miles from my home in Faversham but it can take almost 1 ½ hours to get there by public transport. It takes me over an hour to travel the 20 miles to our county town, Maidstone.

We are all fed up with congestion on our roads and we should be seriously concerned about the build up of toxic air pollution in our towns and the damage to our environment. Yet far too many of us are forced to use our cars to get to work, to take our children to school, to do our shopping and so on. Our bus services are not good enough. And for those without cars, especially those living in rural areas, the situation is dire.

Commercial operators outside London can run buses where they like and when they like. And for passengers without free passes, the bus operators can charge what they like. Bus fares in England have increased by more than 60% in the last decade, much faster than the cost of motoring and wages. Consequently, there are not enough buses, and not enough passengers using them.

The Conservative's free market approach to public transport simply isn't working. We need something much better. Buses are vital for connecting communities and part of the solution to the congestion and the emissions problems which blight our county. 10X bus

The Liberal Democrats demand better. We urgently need to reinvigorate our bus network. It must be modernised, be environmentally friendly, passenger friendly and fully integrated with other forms of transport.

The Liberal Democrats will establish a National Bus Strategy, which:

√ Gives local authorities the powers and the funds to ensure buses are run where people need them and when people need them,

√ Ensures that bus services are properly timetabled to connect with other services and trains,

√ Provides integrated ticketing with other public transport,

√ Makes bus services affordable for all and ensures that operators are fully reimbursed for the costs of journeys undertaken by pass-holders,

√ Renews bus fleets so they become ultra-low or zero emission,

√ Makes buses much more user friendly, especially for those with disabilities and other impairments.

The Conservatives are agonising over the huge costs of rail modernisation and that work will take decades. We can modernise our bus network in a couple of years with a fraction of the costs of rail. Better bus services will cut congestion on Kent's roads and improve the environment for everyone.

A Liberal Democrat National Bus Strategy is needed here in Kent now.