England’s two most powerful metro mayors have crossed the political divide to call for London-style powers over transport in their regions.England’s two most powerful metro mayors have crossed the political divide to call for London-style powers over transport in their regions.
Greater Manchester’s Andy Burnham, of Labour, and Conservative West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, also urged Ministers to back the Government’s own National Infrastructure Commission’s recommendation to invest £43bn in regional city transport, including rail and rapid transit, by 2040.
But more immediately Mr Burnham said the pair were looking for powers to have better control of buses and integrate different modes of transport, as congestion and poor air quality are holding back growth and the quality of life of citizens in their areas.
Mr Burnham said Greater Manchester was given the power to reform the bus system in the legislation which created his mayoralty, but that a parliamentary standing order now needs to be made in order to enact it.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We can’t run a system here that allows us to say here’s the routes that we want, here’s the fares that we want, here’s the way the buses should look, here’s the level of emissions they should be permitted to give out.
“We can’t run a London style system effectively.”
In a joint article for The Times, Mr Burnham and Mr Street said transport was an essential part of making cities competitive on the world stage.
They wrote: “City regions should be the priority for the country’s transport infrastructure because they are increasingly critical to the UK’s economy and international competitiveness.
“Cities now work and are judged alongside other cities on the international stage and we need government’s support to make sure we can compete.
“By 2033, our two city regions will be connected by high speed rail, with HS2 cutting journey times and bringing investment and jobs. We need to take advantage of that opportunity.”
The pair said devolution was working by “building exciting change” and “unlocking energy” but it “needs to be further supported”.