Speaking to The Yorkshire Post at the Transport for the North conference in Leeds yesterday, Mr Burnham said his region could act as a “template” for the idea of a standard £1.55 fare for single journeys to be adopted across the North.
With Greater Manchester due to take buses back into public control under a franchising system from 2023, Mr Burnham said his region could have the system in place by mid-2024 if Government support is provided. Both West and South Yorkshire are also considering following the franchising model.
Mr Burnham said: “We could be a template for the rest of the North, particularly for combined authorities where the powers do exist to put buses under public control. We think what we would do would be helpful to Leeds, helpful to Liverpool and helpful to other places as they look to go down a similar path. It’s perfectly doable.
“In our case, we would integrate the buses with the tram system. As well as it being £1.55 for a bus journey, you would have a daily cap on what people could expect to pay on any given day, no matter how many buses or trams they took.
“This would be a big shift from the very overpriced transport system we have got at the moment to a London-style system which I think would bring huge benefits.
“It could be done [in Greater Manchester] by the middle of 2024. We’ve got a plan to do that but it does require the Government to back us properly with obviously the funding but also the powers we need.
“It is a big vision but it is the best example of levelling up I have seen so far.
“I know what we want for Greater Manchester is very much what Tracy wants for West Yorkshire and Dan Jarvis wants for South Yorkshire. I think it is very important all the combined authorities of the North do this together.
“We are going first and that brings potential benefits but also some risks. But we are absolutely going to work in partnership with all of our neighbours.
“Just imagine Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds all with a bus system that was integrated with other public transport and at £1.55 a journey - it would change lives in the North of England.”
Mayors will push for Northern funding
Regional mayors will work together to put pressure on the Government to put “the North at the front of the queue for investment” in Rishi Sunak’s forthcoming Spending Review next month, Mr Burnham said.
The Greater Manchester mayor said he was committed to working alongside his Labour counterparts in the North - South Yorkshire’s Dan Jarvis, West Yorkshire’s Tracy Brabin and Liverpool’s Steve Rotheram to make the case for increased investment in the region.
Mr Sunak is due to unveil his Spending Review covering the spending priorities up to 2025 along with an Autumn Budget on October 27.
Mr Burnham said Mr Jarvis’s impending departure as South Yorkshire Mayor next year to concentrate on his duties as an MP will not affect their collective work in the short-term.
“I will work very closely with Dan and I am sure he won’t be letting up in any way as we continue to build the case for devolution and for making sure the North of England gets everything that it should,” Mr Burnham said.
“It’s really time to get the North to the front of the queue for investment.
“The Government has made a lot of promises to us and is yet to deliver on them.
“At this particular moment, with the Spending Review looming, I know Dan, Tracy, Steve in Liverpool and myself will be working as one that those crucial combined authorities get the funding we deserve.”
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