Councillor plans a better bus service

BUS companies should be forced to put the needs of passengers before their own profits, according to a senior councillor.

Mick Jameson, Labour’s shadow cabinet member for transport, is calling for mayor Peter Davies to agree to a ‘quality contract’ scheme across the borough.

That would mean the Passenger Transport Executive on behalf of Doncaster Council, and not the bus firms, would have more influence over routes, fares and frequencies.

So far , according to Coun Jameson, Mr Davies has rejected the move, opting instead for weaker voluntary agreements.

But Coun Jameson, who is chair of South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority (SYITA), which oversees all public transport services in the county, believes a quality contract would give Doncaster “the reliable bus service it deserves”.

He said: “I am very keen for Doncaster Council to take up the powers. Public transport should be run in the interest of the passengers and not the bus operators’ shareholders.

“Bus services in Doncaster are expensive, in some cases infrequent and, most importantly, not being run in the interest of passengers.

Bus services outside London were deregulated in 1986 by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Since then fares have gone up by almost 50 per cent in real terms. That steep increase in cost has not been matched with improvements in the service provided.

Coun Jameson said: “Week in, week out, services across the borough are cancelled, late and often changed at short notice, meaning many people are denied a reliable and affordable bus service to work, school, health centres and hospitals.

“The current set up, which means bus companies are free to make profits while providing a poor service, must change. Doncaster’s 300,000 residents must be given the reliable bus service they deserve.

“The elected mayor must take action to help Doncaster people in these tough times.”

Sandra Holland, leader of Doncaster’s Labour councillors, said: “Mayor Davies seems more interested in dismantling bus lanes than improving travel services for Doncaster’s communities.”

Mr Davies’ policy is to encourage all forms of transport to help make Doncaster a vibrant area with easy access for business and shoppers.