Cllr James Lewis, who chairs the group of six transport committees serving the six largest city regions outside London, said:
‘The comments by Stagecoach Chief Executive, Martin Griffiths, about the concessionary bus pass for older people being unaffordable, whilst complaining that he and his company are underpaid, are shocking and deplorable. That anyone who operates in an industry that is dependent on public subsidy, and is relied upon by the poorest in country, could think that six monthly profits that have risen to nearly £125 million are not enough, shows that this a company that is out of touch with the people who use its services and the taxpayer that subsidises them. The fact is that there are millions of older people on low incomes for whom the concessionary pass is a lifeline. Research by KPMG for the bus industry funded Greener Journeys, also showed that there are substantial economic benefits from the concessionary pass. The study found that for every pound spent on concessionary bus travel there are benefits of £2.87 as the pass helps tackle the health costs associated with people being stuck in their own homes, means more shopping on the high streets, saves on specialised transport, reduces congestion on the roads, and enables older people to contribute more to society as a whole. Martin Griffith’s comments also illustrate why we are seeking the powers we need to regulate bus services properly so that the needs of local communities can be put before those of big corporations like Stagecoach who have made a mint out of their local monopolies and have, it would appear, become too comfortable, and lost their grip of economic realities, as a result.’
For more contact Jonathan Bray on 0781 804 1485
The group brings together the Transport Committees that serve eleven million people in the Metropolitan areas of Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Merseyside, Tyne and Wear, South Yorkshire and West Midlands.