Boris Johnson’s ’bus revolution’ needs a policy routemap; here’s why – The Yorkshire Post says

BORIS Johnson had not even sat down at The Yorkshire Post’s offices in September 2019 when he mentioned the B-word – buses (as opposed to Brexit which was the dominant issue at the time).

He was a big fan, he declared, and he wanted them to drive forward his aspiration agenda because of the extent to which reliable bus services had boosted social mobility in London under his mayoralty.

This also explains, in fairness, the Prime Minister’s newly-announced £3bn bus ‘revolution’, a genuine attempt to tackle economic disadvantage and, in the year of COP26, reduce harmful carbon ambitions.

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What is less apparent, however, is how this will bring about the intended societal benefits when the North only receives a fraction of the public money for buses that London enjoys and when Mr Johnson’s own flagship ‘levelling up’ policy remains undefined amid suspicions that it is merely a ‘sprucing up’ fund for Tory areas and target seats.

Boris Johnson during the launch of his new bus strategy.

This is made even more apparent by a new report by a Parliamentary group, headed by Bradford South MP Judith Cummins, which reveals the extent to which 28 so-called ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods in this region are paying the price for poor public transport provision and low rates of car ownership.

These are precisely the type of areas that should be receiving priority treatment from the Levelling Up Fund. Instead, areas like Barnsley and Hull have to play second fiddle to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Richmond seat where the infrequency of bus services is offset by more families having access to their own car.

And while Ministers contend, fairly, that countryside areas are also worthy of investment, a far more clearer policy route-map is needed if the bus is to become the default mode of transport that Mr Johnson envisaged with his customary ebullience over 18 months ago.

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Boris Johnson during a visit to a bus depot earlier this month.
Boris Johnson during his visit to The Yorkshore Post in September 2019.