Buses should run for the public good, not profit for a few

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From: Graham Kyte, Boswell Close, Royston, Barnsley.

THE comments by Martin Abrams on the state of many bus services (Yorkshire Post, December 27) make some valid points but miss the main one – that these essential public services, like the railways, are almost entirely in the control of a handful of private operators.

For this we have to thank, once again, Margaret Thatcher and her devotion to the free market. The outcome of applying these principles to bus services is that we now have a deregulated system everywhere outside of London and that, as some services continue to contract, the profits of the operators continue to expand. This has been the position for 25 years and it is a matter of some regret that successive governments have lacked the courage to effectively address the matter.

I was a member of South Yorkshire Transport Authority for a number of years and it gives me little pleasure to recall that I was party to spending thousands of pounds of public funds trying to persuade the major operators to agree quality contracts which would bring some stability to the present chaotic system. With hindsight, it is not really surprising that the operators have no wish to be tied to such contracts when they have the current opportunity to do virtually as they please.

Departments across national and local government should recognise the benefits of good local transport systems. We did just that here in South Yorkshire under the old Metropolitan County Council until the Tories abolished it. Everyone contributed to a low fares policy and everyone benefited. The local economy prospered, ridership was buoyant, profitable routes cross-subsidised those less frequently used – and nobody made massive profits. The system operated on the simple premise that efficient bus services, like schools and hospitals, are essential for the public good – and should not be subject to unregulated market forces.

We need re-regulation now more than ever and a future Labour government would, hopefully, have the courage to grasp the nettle.

From: Ken Walsh, South View, Tunstall, Richmond.

WITH reference to the article by Rob Parsons (Yorkshire Post, December 28), I frequently drive up Bishopdale and drop down into Wharfedale via Kidstones. I have experienced traffic control with either lights or men directing queues of traffic around patching up operations all the way to Kilnsey Crag. Inevitably surface water will undermine the Tarmac layer and the water will freeze and lift the road surface.

Having attended many public meetings and heard the usual statement “Our finances are allocated within this budget year up to March 31 and the money must be spent within this time frame”, surely consideration could have been given to inviting NYCC employees and sub-contractors to work longer days so the roads are ready for the Tour De France? I believe that with the co-operation of a willing workforce for a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle, the work would have costed in even if NYCC were to pay overtime. It would no doubt have been cheaper than doing all the work again.