Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh has given her backing to plans for an overhaul of Tyne and Wear’s bus services.
The Labour MP was in Newcastle yesterday to meet members of the North East Combined Authority.
Speaking ahead of the private meeting, on the day that proposals for a new bus system were submitted to a quality contracts board by transport operator Nexus, she told the Gazette that any region wanting a London-style system should be able to get one.
Ms Creagh, MP for Wakefield in West Yorkshire, said: “We certainly support the proposals that Nexus is undertaking with quality contracts.
“We want to give any city region that wants them London-style powers over their buses to grow their economy and plough more money back into the bus economy.
“It’s clear to me that we can have London-style smart ticketing up here, but I think proposals for concessionary fares for 16 to 19-year-olds at £7.50 a week are really good news for this area, particularly after the scrapping of the education and maintenance allowance and also integrating the Metro and bus services, because, at the moment, they are in competition with each other.
“We think this is how you grow your economy, bringing more jobs and more prosperity to the area.”
Ms Creagh hopes improvements to the rail network in the North East will fall to a future Labour government following Sir David Higgins’ review of the HS2 rail scheme and proposals for a link between Manchester and Leeds.
She said: “When the Chancellor, George Osborne, talks about HS3, I think people will judge him on his actions, not his words. People here have seen stealth fare increases of up to 160 per cent, and there is no plan to get rid of the outdated Pacer trains.
“I think we do need a Crossrail for the North, but I think it will fall to the next Labour government to deliver that and make sure that no area is left behind.”