Pascale from the Better Buses campaign kindly answered some questions about the Better Buses campaign and how you can get involved…
1. When was the Better Buses campaign set up, by who? Who is supporting it?
The campaign was set up and is backed by We Own It, an organisation which campaigns for public ownership of public services. With this campaign, we’re calling on Andy Burnham to make a decision for a better, publicly controlled bus network as they have in London. We’ve built a coalition of amazing organisations and groups who are campaigning together, including Unite and Unison North West, ACORN, Better Buses for Bury, Friends of the Earth Manchester, Keep our NHS Public GM, Steady State Manchester and more!
2. What have you done so far and what is coming up?
We’ve had our first public meeting, where 150 came, and met with council leaders all across GM in our action week, which shows how much people care about getting a better bus network. We’ve released research on the £18.4 million going to shareholder payouts every year in the North West, which amounts of £1.49 billion over the past ten years across the UK. We’re going to be working towards the public consultation, where we want to mobilise everyone across GM to tell Andy Burnham that we need and deserve better, publicly controlled buses.
3. In a nutshell, what would ‘victory’ for the Better Buses campaign look like? Is it more buses on more routes? Is it low carbon/electric buses? Some combination? What are some of the wins that could be achieved in the next year?
Public control, or regulation as it’s also known, would mean local authorities plan the network and can demand certain standards. Local authorities say what buses are on what routes, and they offer contracts to companies to run our buses. This uses public money much more efficiently, as a lot less is going to shareholder payouts, which means more buses on more routes, and it means cheaper fares. We need a comprehensive network to get people out of cars definitely. With local authorities accountable to us setting the standards, it means we can transition to a clean fleet much quicker, as we are seeing happen in London. It also means better working conditions for drivers, and audiovisual announcements to make buses more accessible. Success for Better Buses for Greater Manchester is a regulated bus network which is run for the community, not profit.
4. If people get involved, what sorts of things would they end up doing (letter writing? lobbying? marching? other?)
We’d love people to get involved beyond signing the petition (though that really helps too) we have a volunteer organising group which meets to plan the campaign and take actions in their local authority, which people can join, and we welcome more organisations signing up to the coalition to support the campaign, symbolically or physically! We’ve got big plans and we need help, so writing letters to Andy Burnham is one action of many. If you think your action could convince Andy Burnham to side with passengers and staff, then please reach out and say hello. I’m at Pascale@betterbusesgm.org.uk
5. Anything else you want to say
Please sign and share the petition, follow us on Twitter and say hello to get involved however you can! The bus companies do not want a publicly controlled bus network, so we have lots of work and lots to win!