MP backs calls to shake-up Sunderland bus services

Houghton MP Bridget Phillipson is campaigning for local people to be given more say over bus services.
Houghton MP Bridget Phillipson is campaigning for local people to be given more say over bus services.
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AN MP claims the present bus system has “failed to deliver” for passengers.

Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson stepped up calls for a shake-up of bus services, after the Competition Commission found a lack of “head-to-head” competition among private bus companies.

Ms Phillipson waded in to a row between Nexus and transport firm Go North East earlier this month, when she criticised the company’s managing director over his disparaging remarks regarding proposals to bring bus services back under public sector control.

Nexus is exploring the possibility of using a system known as Quality Contracts to bring about a London-style takeover of bus services, with a single fare structure and one body determining routes and services.

Ms Phillipson said: “Deregulation has failed to deliver the level of service people across Wearside deserve.

“Twenty-five years after bus services in the UK were deregulated, the Competition Commission has had to step in and recommend to the Government changes to further open up the market.”

The MP had already called for public transport improvements.

In the summer she surveyed more than 1,000 people in Sunderland. The report was used by the House of Commons Transport Select Committee in its investigation into bus services.

Ms Phillipson said: “Many residents have made it clear that the current system of service provision does not fulfil their reasonable expectations of frequent service, stable and easy to understand fares, and direct routes to local services such as hospitals.”

Ms Phillipson said the Competition Commission’s report contains measures to ensure greater competition.

She added: “Nexus should continue with its proposals to force bus companies to provide a better level of service across Wearside – if it’s good enough for London, it’s good enough for us.”

Go North East managing director Peter Huntley says bus companies had increased passenger numbers. He criticised Nexus for using public cash to explore the Quality Contracts scheme.

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