Jeremy Corbyn pledges to reverse cuts to thousands of bus routes

25 April 2019, 16:47 | Updated: 25 April 2019, 17:30

Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour's pledge to reverse cuts to 3,000 bus routes in England and Wales will not be paid for by "clobbering" motorists.

The £1.3bn per year policy will be funded by the revenue generated from the annual road tax paid by motorists, the party said.

Launching the pledge in Nottingham on Thursday, Mr Corbyn said he would "not be clobbering anybody", responding to Conservative claims that Labour would have to "clobber motorists with tax hikes and slash funding for road repairs" to pay for it.

The Labour leader said: "What we're doing is trying to help the whole community by ensuring there's good public transport.

"We've moved on a bit since Margaret Thatcher once said anyone on a bus over the age of 25 is a failure.

"I think people on a bus is a success."

According to the Campaign for Better Transport, more than 3,000 routes have been scaled back or withdrawn altogether since 2010, a period that has seen a 45% reduction in local authority bus budgets.

Mr Corbyn also referenced the reaction he received when he raised the issue in Parliament.

"There was an intake of breath, particularly from Tory MPs, it was bizarre," he said.

"I raised the question of buses because everybody needs to get around and a lot of people need buses because they haven't got cars.

"A lot of people just laughed because MPs... live in a slightly different bubble where the only transport they use is trains or taxis.

"Buses to them are just something that block up the road. They're not. They are an essential form of transport.

"So I was happy to raise it because I feel very strongly about it."

Figures from the Department for Transport show the number of local bus passenger journeys in England decreased by 85 million (1.9%) to 4.36 billion in the year ending March 2018.

People aged over 65, or those with a disability, are legally entitled to free bus passes for off-peak travel.

A Lords committee has suggested free bus passes for pensioners should be scrapped to free up money for younger generations, but Mr Corbyn dismissed this idea.

"We're going to keep bus passes for pensioners," he said.

"We're going to keep them because they are the right thing to do to encourage and enable older people to get around, but there has to be a bus and train service where appropriate to provide for that service.

"I think the sense of liberation of older people being able to travel anywhere, to get out more, to - obviously hospital appointments and things like that - but also visiting family, friends is very important.

"Loneliness is also a big problem, particularly for older people. A good transport system helps to reduce loneliness and improves community integration."