The Green vision for public transport

Former Armley & Wortley stationWith just a few days to go before the election, I want to remind you about the Green Party vision for public transport.

Yesterday Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett announced our plan to give local authorities the power to regulate bus services – ending two decades of decline in this most vital of public services. This would help hugely to improve the currently poor and expensive bus services in Leeds.

Greens can deliver a public transport system that people can truly depend on and will encourage people out of their cars, helping to reduce emissions, improve air quality and lower levels of CO2.

British train journeys are the most crowded and expensive in Europe – it’s easy to see why people choose to drive instead.

Almost £4 billion of public money is paid to private railway companies each year in subsidies.

90% of their profits are then handed over to shareholders, instead of being reinvested back into improving services. As I highlighted in a previous post, this investment could mean 9 new stations in Leeds West

Over two-thirds of the British public support renationalisation of the railways.

The Green Party are the only party that has promised to bring the railways back into public hands.

We will create more reliable and affordable services for everyone, starting by immediately cutting public transport fares by 10% to relieve financial pressures for commuters.

If you share our vision, and want a public transport system designed for the people, vote Green on May 7th.



Green Party calls for 10% cut in train and bus fares with increased public investment

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas

The Green Party today announced plans for an average 10% cut in rail and bus fares, which will be included in its general election manifesto, paid for by increasing public investment in fares by £1.8 billion a year.

The £9 billion investment over the course of the next parliament would be met by scrapping most of the Government’s £15 billion new road building programme.

The announcement came on the day when local Green parties up and down the country joined RMT, Action for Rail, Compass and People’s Assembly protests against the failed privatised rail system. They backed Green MP Caroline Lucas’s Railways Bill that would bring services back into public hands, to allow them to be run for the benefit of passengers, not shareholders. Members of the Green Party were present at Leeds station today to hand out leaflets and talk to the public about the new year rise in rail fares.

Caroline Lucas has rightly criticised what she dubbed the “blatant transfer of public money to private shareholders”, and that “the Public Purse is propping up a failing rail system for private gain. UK railways would be £1 billion better off in public hands.”

She said shambolic services over the Christmas period were typical of “a system that has flatly failed”, and added: “Rail privatisation has become characterised by poor services, cramped trains and extortionate fares. It’s ripping off passengers, harming the economy and failing the environment. This isn’t a call for a throwback to a ‘70s British Rail. The modern, efficient, clean, affordable services enjoyed in other parts of Europe offer a much better blueprint than our own past.”

The UK has some of the highest fares in Europe, and they continue to rocket – vastly out of line with wage rises. As the Green Party candidate for Leeds West I agree wholeheartedly with Caroline and I believe we need to call for an end to a railway designed for private profiteering, at the expense of quality, value and fairness. The only long term solution to high fares and poor services is to bring the railways fully back into public hands. As the son of a retired railwayman this is an issue that I’m very passionate about.

Since 2010 rail fares have gone up around 23% while wages have risen just 6.9%. The latest rises are on average 2.2%. Greens would like to see fares set so there’s a sufficient price advantage between them and private motor transport to attract users away from the car. We would also like to improve the availability of tickets at a wide range of outlets, and simplify the fare structure so there’s a standard rate with reductions for off-peak times, people with low incomes or no incomes like pensioners and children. By building new or opening old stations and lines, and making stations fully accessible we can encourage more people to use the railways. We would look to increase the capacity on the railways and invest in new rolling stock. All of this needs to be part of a fully integrated transport policy that includes improving bus services and cycling facilities to make it easier to get to the railway stations. Bringing the railways back into public ownership is central to delivering these improvements. If elected you can be sure this is an issue I will campaign strongly about.


Summary of today’s announcement

  • The Green Party proposes cutting the cost of public transport for passengers by 10% on 2015 ticket prices.
  • The 10% cut to fares would be paid for by increasing the level of public investment in rail and bus fares by around £1.8 billion per annum.
  • The £9 billion cost over the course of the next parliament would be met by scrapping most of the Government’s £15 billion new road building programme. This would still leave £6 billion for other transport uses.
  • This cut to the new roads programme would not affect road repairs or safety improvements to existing roads.
  • Under the Green Party’s plans fares would be cut by 10% in 2015 and held at this lower rate in real terms for the duration of the next parliament.
  • Over time the Green Party would return the railways to public ownership to secure a cheaper and better service. The Green MP, Caroline Lucas, has proposed a Railways Bill that would bring franchises into public ownership as their contracts expire.

Full briefing document 

Pointon protests fare rise and calls for public ownership of rail

Andrew Pointon handed out Action For Rail postcards this morning from 7:30am to 9am

Leeds West PPC Andrew Pointon handed out Action For Rail postcards this morning from 7:30am to 9am at Leeds station to protest against rail privatisation and the latest round of above inflation train fare increases.

Today campaigners gathered at over 60 stations throughout the UK, from Southampton to Edinburgh, to protest the passenger fare rise and to call for the railways to be brought into public ownership. Members of rail unions, campaigning groups and others came together as the inflation figure used to calculate the annual rise in regulated rail fares was announced – a wage-busting inflation plus 1 per cent. Andrew Pointon, the Green Party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Leeds West, joined the protest at Leeds station this morning to hand out postcards to passengers and the passing public.

Since 2008 fares have risen four times faster than average wages. The Green Party is the only political party to match public sentiment and call for the re-nationalisation of the railways and it opposes selling off the publicly run East Coast mainline. This issue is particularly important in Leeds, with East Coast rail bringing in over £1 billion in revenue since 2009 that goes towards funding vital public services like the NHS. Meanwhile, Northern Rail, Transpennine Express and Virgin alone have paid almost £100 million to shareholders while receiving over £1 billion in public subsidy.

Andrew Pointon said:

“As the son of a retired railwayman and someone who has used and loved the railways since childhood, I strongly support this campaign and a completely nationalised rail service. It seems absolutely ludicrous that something that is making money for the common good, provides such a decent service, and is popular with the public might be sold off to companies who need huge sums of our public money to run it for their own profits. We need to keep East Coast in public hands, and nationalise the rest of the rail network as soon as possible. Only the Green party has this commitment, only the Green Party is completely against the continued privatisation of essential public services like the NHS and rail network.”

Protesters outside Leeds station this morning

Protesters outside Leeds station this morning