A TRANSPORT boss has welcomed Government plans to transform local bus services.

Under proposals put forward by Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander in a new report - 'Putting Passengers First' - local authorities could be given greater influence over bus timetables and fares.

This is particularly welcome in Greater Manchester where fares have risen 42pc above inflation and bus passenger journeys have dropped by 38pc in the 20 years since deregulation.

Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority (GMPTA) Chairman, Councillor Roger Jones, said: "I am delighted at today's announcement which heralds the biggest shake-up to the way bus services in Greater Manchester have been run in 20 years. For far too long bus operators have had it all their own way and passengers have had a raw deal.

"Giving local authorities a say in deciding timetables and fares is fantastic news for passengers. It is crucial that we have greater powers to ensure bus operators are accountable to their passengers and deliver reliable, affordable bus services that take people where they want to go.

"I look forward to studying these proposals in detail and working with the Department for Transport to make sure we get the best deal for Greater Manchester bus users."

The proposals also include:

  • Giving greater powers to Traffic Commissioners to improve bus punctuality.
  • Moreopportunities for the Community Transport Sector to play a role in local transport provision.
  • Making sure that current bus subsidies help to support the Government's environmental objectives.

The Department for Transport will now discuss its proposals with key parties before publishing the draft Road Transport Bill next year for public consultation.

GMPTA is calling on the government for greater control over buses via franchising powers to allow it to decide where and when buses run, as well as setting high standards for punctuality and reliability.