Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has urged the government to make the same subsidies for northern bus fares as those applied in London.
In an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Burnham claimed successive governments of ‘all colours’ had failed the north of England and called on the government for more public transport parity, stressing that there is no northern powerhouse without increased fairness in the way transport subsidies are managed.
In 2017, legislation handed Burnham and local councils powers over buses and he has until the end of this year to decide how to deploy them. Options include entering into a partnership with operators or setting up a franchised system that would dictate fares, routes, timetables and ticketing.
Research commissioned by the campaign group Better Buses at the start of the year showed that more than three-quarters of people in the region wanted its politicians to take back control of the bus network.
He said: “Buses have to change here. If you want a very everyday example of the north/south divide let me give you one. It costs £4 here for a single bus journey, capped at £1.50 in London. How can that possibly be fair? So we are ready to take a decision but actually we need the same level of subsidy for our bus system and our transport system as London. It is time we are given the same investment that London has had for decades. There is no northern powerhouse without it.”
More than 30 newspapers and news websites in the north of England have demanded ‘a revolution’ in how the region is treated by government.