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Labour slams the Tories over axed bus routes in northern England and the Midlands

BUS passenger numbers have plummeted by millions in northern England and the Midlands as a result of routes being axed because of Tory cuts, Labour said today.

The party revealed its analysis of government figures as shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald and shadow minister for buses Matt Rodda visited Northampton.

Since 2010 bus passenger numbers have fallen by seven million a year in both England’s north-west and in the east Midlands, by five million in Yorkshire & Humber, by four million in the north-east and by three million in the west Midlands.

The figures show that the number of routes is projected to be cut by nearly 5,250 nationally by 2022.

Northampton is set to lose 10 more routes by August as a result of cash-strapped Tory-run Northamptonshire County Council — which earlier this year declared itself “effectively insolvent” — having announced further removal of subsidies.

Mr McDonald said: “The Tories said deregulation would improve our buses, but they are running the bus services into the ground.

“Passengers now face a toxic mix of rising fares, cuts to services and reduced access. Meanwhile, private companies are coining it in with growing profits.

“Buses are consistently ignored because the political class don’t use them. But for tens of millions of people, especially those outside the capital, they are vital, and very often they’re the only mode of public transport available.

“That’s what makes the Tory attack on buses so appalling.”

In Prime Minister’s Questions today, leader Jeremy Corbyn continued Labour’s theme, revealing the government had cut 46 per cent from bus budgets since 2010 and pointed to a 10 per cent drop in passenger numbers among elderly and disabled people.

He said that Theresa May’s “government belatedly committed to keeping the free bus pass — but a bus pass isn’t much use if there isn’t a bus.”

Mr Corbyn said deregulation had led to fares increasing 13 per cent above inflation, while private bus monopolies had raked in £3.3 billion in profits since the Tories came into power in 2010.

Ms May said councils — whose budgets have been cut deeply — have some responsibilities and capabilities to subsidise bus routes and fares, adding that metro mayors have the powers too.

Labour pledged that it would give councils the choice to form their own municipal bus companies and regain regulatory powers so that they can set the fares, routes and timetables.

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