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My message is that our country is about to miss its own targets for the fourth and fifth carbon targets, and that is an appalling record. That is on the Government’s own statistics, so we really need to focus on getting our own house in order.
Successful bus networks are key to achieving a modal shift from private to public transport and reducing carbon emissions. A fully loaded double decker bus could take up to 75 cars off the road. We are hearing references now to buses from the Conservative Benches, inspired no doubt by the Prime Minister’s painting of cardboard buses, but there needs to be more than that. Under this Government, bus funding has been slashed in real terms by £645 million a year, and more than 3,000 routes have been cut or withdrawn. Fares have soared at more than two and a half times the rate of wage increases, while bus patronage in England outside London has fallen by 10%.
Labour has committed to extending the power to franchise bus services to all local authorities in England and to overturning the ban on new municipal companies. That would allow for the cross-subsidisation of services, smart and integrated ticketing, and London-style price caps. My hon. Friend Chi Onwurah remarked the other day that a £1.50 bus fare takes her four stops on the West Road in Newcastle. I endure the same thing: a £2 bus ride from my home in Middlesbrough to the bus station a short distance away is truly ridiculous when people can cross this wonderful capital city very economically indeed.