Yesterday I met with residents of Oakfield Court, a sheltered housing scheme in East Herrington, and older residents living in Plains Road to discuss Stagecoach bus route changes and how the plans will affect their everyday lives.
I would urge Stagecoach to reconsider the changes and the impact of their plans on some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.
Many residents depend entirely on public transport to get about and access key services such as hospital appointments. Many were distressed that they will be cut off when the changes happen.
Residents were also disappointed that no consultation has taken place to find a way forward.
I have been campaigning for a more affordable, transparent and accountable transport network for Tyne and Wear since 2010.
The transport system in our area is deregulated, which means that bus operators can get the routes, fares and time tables to suit their business needs instead of putting local people first.
I pressed for a Quality Contract Scheme (QCS), a scheme that would enable councils to hold bus operators to account in terms of punctuality, affordable fare levels, maintaining bus routes, and providing job security for bus drivers and engineers.
However, the QCS believed that operators should be compensated for the loss of future profits. I was very disappointed to see bus operators’ profits once again put ahead of taxpayers.
Now that the government introduced the Bus Services Bill to Parliament, I want to see some tangible measures in the Bill that gives councils the power they need to hold bus operators to account.
More details on my meeting yesterday with local residents can be found on Sunderland Echo.