I welcome the main aims of the Bill, which are to increase passenger numbers and give local authorities and operators new tools to improve services. With that in mind, I wish to make a brief contribution on rural bus services, which are of huge interest to my constituents, particularly those in the more rural and isolated parts, because I am keen to hear from the Minister how the Bill can help them. Without a shadow of a doubt, the biggest turnouts at the public meetings I have held have been at those at which bus services are being discussed. At a recent event in Kingsbury, where a route was being cut—I will return to that later—such was the strength of feeling that we had to shut people out of the room because capacity was quickly reached.
Obviously, many people rely on public transport. At a time when we are encouraging more people to use it, it is important that we do not forget the areas that need services, so that people have the opportunity to get good jobs and to shop and socialise, and so that they can choose where they are educated. Sadly, that is not currently happening in North Warwickshire and Bedworth. I hear regularly from constituents that there are not enough buses, that they do not go at the right times, and that they do not go where people need them to go. I have to admit that there is a stark contrast between my time spent in London, when I think of using nothing other than public transport because of how excellently it works, and my time spent back in the constituency, where it is just not viable to use it.