Monday, September 25, 2006

Golden Buses

Livingstone is very proud of his buses and it is true that the service has improved, but at a cost....

Roger Evans: What is the current level of public subsidy provided to London Buses?

Ken Livingstone: In 2004/05 - the most recent year for which fully validated data is available - the bus network required a subsidy of £550 million.

Easily the most heavily subsidised bus network in the country.

4 comments:

Serf said...

That's enormous.

After raising the cost of driving, we still need to spend half a billion to keep the buses running?

MayorWatch said...

Now now Roger, you know you're one of my favourite AMs but you musn't play down the impact of the Tory decision to smash up and privatise the London bus network on the current running costs.

When London Transport owned the buses and employed the staff there was less need for them to make a profit provided they covered their costs.

Once the decision was taken to turn LT into a regulator rather than an operator there was a need - a wholly legitimate need for any private concern - to make a profit.

The problem is that not all routes are profitable and whereas they were cross subsidised by the money makers whilst under public ownership this was often not the case post 'de-regulation' as it was so misleadingly called.

This is why a subsidy is needed and whilst I accept £550 million is a lot of dosh it is the policies of your own party which created the need for the public purse to subsidise private companies.

Martin :-)

Roger Evans said...

Martin,

Thank you for your comment. It's good to get some conflicting views.

Of course the Conservative policy you criticise was pursued across the country which begs the question, why is the service so much more expensive in London?

Recently Stagecoach sold two of its franchises in London to an investment bank and pocketed a profit of £120 million. Someone has been ripped off - the bank's shareholders, or bus passengers. I wonder which it could be....

MayorWatch said...

Roger asks:

"Of course the Conservative policy you criticise was pursued across the country which begs the question, why is the service so much more expensive in London?"

Roger my understanding is that subsidy is effectively paid on a per passenger/usage basis?

As you know the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee's report - 'Delivery Chain Analysis For Bus Services In England' - praised the fact that London has seen bus usage increase by 40 per cent since 2000/01 while elsewhere in England bus usage has fallen by seven per cent.

Surely this answers why the system costs more in London than outside?

Of course I could be wrong!

I agree with you on the Stagecoach issue and I'm surprised there's been no announcement of an investigation by the Assembly into the issue.