Somerset bus services survey reminder

This is The West Country: Somerset bus services survey reminder Somerset bus services survey reminder

PEOPLE have until January 6 to have their say on bus services in Somerset.

Somerset County Council is reviewing its funding of several local bus services and is asking for views from members of the public.

To take part, fill in the questionnaire online by visiting www.somerset.gov.uk and clicking ‘Have your say’ or request a paper copy by phoning 0845-3459166.

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11:46am Tue 31 Dec 13

Somerset,SocialistParty says...

Buses - brutal reality behind the sweet talk

A bus worker reports:

Privatisation of public transport would make things so much better, the Tories told us under Margaret Thatcher.

Many people thought it couldn't get any worse. The prospect of waiting in the cold and rain or being packed on overcrowded trains meant more people used cars and services declined for the rest of us.

Apparently privatisation would improve things for the consumer because faceless bureaucrats were no longer in control.

Enterprising companies would run things in their customers' interests. They'd be more flexible and respond to people's needs - the free market would guarantee that if they didn't provide a good service, competitors would take their business. Passengers would have a choice.

No mass party explained an alternative. So the brutal reality behind all this sweet talk only slowly dawned on people.

Fatal rail disasters showed how the safety culture had been undermined. Bus services outside the big cities practically vanished on Sundays and in the evenings.

High fares

As a public transport user and a bus driver, I see things from two viewpoints. The month I lost my staff pass reminded me of the high fares, too.

London buses were privatised a decade after the rest of Britain, partly because the government was concerned at the potential resistance of the unions.

But eventually in the run-up to 1994, in the absence of a determined union leadership, workers were forced to accept job cuts, pay cuts of up to a third, destruction of pensions and even our social clubs.

The Tories also feared transport chaos in the capital. So privatisation came with regulation through Transport for London (TfL).

This includes an annual subsidy from the taxpayer to private bus operators of hundreds of millions of pounds. So they don't mind state regulation too much.

Look at the career of David Brown. Last year he resigned as TfL's Managing Director of surface transport to become CEO of bus firm Go-Ahead.

Before TfL, Brown had been chief executive of Go-Ahead's London bus business. Now a former boss of bus company First has taken his position at TfL. So that's all right then - for the bus companies.

Where's the "healthy competition"? Just five firms - Arriva, First, Go-Ahead, National Express and Stagecoach dominate UK local bus services and train operations too.

Where's the "choice"? These same big firms have already chosen which one will provide a service in your area.

London tube workers beware! Privatisation is heading in your direction too, if the government gets its way.

A genuine alternative would involve a mass political campaign by transport users alongside workers in the industry and democratic public control of the transport system.

Don't just get angry...Get organised! .... Join the Socialist Party.

For more information or to join the Socialist Party, visit: www.socialistparty.o
rg.uk
Buses - brutal reality behind the sweet talk A bus worker reports: Privatisation of public transport would make things so much better, the Tories told us under Margaret Thatcher. Many people thought it couldn't get any worse. The prospect of waiting in the cold and rain or being packed on overcrowded trains meant more people used cars and services declined for the rest of us. Apparently privatisation would improve things for the consumer because faceless bureaucrats were no longer in control. Enterprising companies would run things in their customers' interests. They'd be more flexible and respond to people's needs - the free market would guarantee that if they didn't provide a good service, competitors would take their business. Passengers would have a choice. No mass party explained an alternative. So the brutal reality behind all this sweet talk only slowly dawned on people. Fatal rail disasters showed how the safety culture had been undermined. Bus services outside the big cities practically vanished on Sundays and in the evenings. High fares As a public transport user and a bus driver, I see things from two viewpoints. The month I lost my staff pass reminded me of the high fares, too. London buses were privatised a decade after the rest of Britain, partly because the government was concerned at the potential resistance of the unions. But eventually in the run-up to 1994, in the absence of a determined union leadership, workers were forced to accept job cuts, pay cuts of up to a third, destruction of pensions and even our social clubs. The Tories also feared transport chaos in the capital. So privatisation came with regulation through Transport for London (TfL). This includes an annual subsidy from the taxpayer to private bus operators of hundreds of millions of pounds. So they don't mind state regulation too much. Look at the career of David Brown. Last year he resigned as TfL's Managing Director of surface transport to become CEO of bus firm Go-Ahead. Before TfL, Brown had been chief executive of Go-Ahead's London bus business. Now a former boss of bus company First has taken his position at TfL. So that's all right then - for the bus companies. Where's the "healthy competition"? Just five firms - Arriva, First, Go-Ahead, National Express and Stagecoach dominate UK local bus services and train operations too. Where's the "choice"? These same big firms have already chosen which one will provide a service in your area. London tube workers beware! Privatisation is heading in your direction too, if the government gets its way. A genuine alternative would involve a mass political campaign by transport users alongside workers in the industry and democratic public control of the transport system. Don't just get angry...Get organised! .... Join the Socialist Party. For more information or to join the Socialist Party, visit: www.socialistparty.o rg.uk Somerset,SocialistParty

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