Jeremy Corbyn was asked whether Labour would nationalise part of the bus network this morning. He replied that the party would legislate to allow councils to “develop bus services where they don’t exist”.
Speaking after his CBI speech, Corbyn said Labour in government would also legislate for integrated transport systems, and put a “good quality public transport system” at the “centre of our programme”.
The Labour leader said: “With the deregulation of our transport system in the 1980s, only London retained a regulated bus service. And you can see the results of that in London, in the very high levels of bus ridership compared to the rest of the country and the very effective bus routes…
“I know about this because I was a member of the House of Commons committee in the 1980s that dealt with the issues of the abolition of the GLC and the metropolitan counties and the future transport relationship. We managed to win the principle that there should be a full regulated bus service across London. Sadly, that didn’t apply elsewhere.
“The newly elected mayors are trying to develop a regulated bus service across their region. What we’re doing is empowering local authorities to develop bus services where they don’t exist. Some are allowed to do that in the Bus Act, some not. We would extend that to all.
“But we would also make an absolute requirement of the integration of services between buses and rail services… Bus access is something that’s very, very important to all of your workforce, I’m sure, and to communities as a whole.
“If we want to develop suburban and rural areas economically, then there has to be a good quality public transport system for them and I think buses and tram metro are an essential part of that. And that is very much in our thinking and at the centre of our programme.”
Labour announced last year that it would offer free bus travel for under 25s in areas where the local authority runs the buses. In April, the party unveiled its plan to set up a £1.3bn ‘bus transformation fund’ that would reverse Tory cuts to 3,000 bus routes and reinstate services across the country.