By Mel Dawkins / Latest News / 0 Comments

Local buses provide a lifeline for communities missed off the map of the commercial providers – ensuring people have an affordable way to travel to school, work, the shops, local amenities and vital services. The services we rely on have been tested to their limits through this crisis, with reduced passenger numbers and increased health and safety burdens. 

Councils can support communities to set up their own people’s bus service in areas underserved by the big for-profit providers and review planning and procurement strategies to ensure community transport gets a fair treatment. 

On the doorstep I here two consistent messages:

  1. Free Bus Travel

Why are parents and carers having to pay for the child’s school bus pass.? Currently a bus pass for a school child is £360 per a year plus a £10 administration fee. For some families this is just too much out of their budget, especially if there is more than one child in the family.  

Our children’s education is what we pay for in our council tax and income tax . Getting our children to school is paramount to their education , why are we having to pay on top of this.  

2. Public transport

We want to support local residents needs and not the profit of bus operators in rural and residential areas. 

The bus service in Kent needs a complete overhaul. Although it serves a function, bus services do not offer an all-in affordable, accessible, practical and useful alternative to incentivise people to use the bus.  

Currently,  it is set up to suit the profits of the bus companies and shareholders and not the needs of our residents.  

So many people I talk to say that they would like to use the bus but when they add it up, it works out more convenient and cheaper to drive.  

How can we ask people to choose travelling by public transport,  if it is not the better option?  

Bus services should be easy, cheap, accessible and get you to where you need to go quickly and efficiently. People should be able to hop on and off easily.  

We need to take control of the power, so that we can get the services we want by consulting with communities to find out what routes and services are beneficial to them.  

Labour want to improve both of these things. We would

  • lobby for a transport for London model of public transport management in Kent. This will ensure the system meets the needs of residents rather than private shareholders.  
  • seek to introduce means tested bus pass prescriptions for those under 65 deemed socially isolated, or that can demonstrate a need. 
  • review the timing restrictions on the over 65s bus pass.  
  • Make children’s travel free. Student bus passes will be free under a Labour administration; costs and inaccessibility of transport should not be a barrier to education.