Bus companies should be made to consult passengers before they rip up timetables, according to an MP fighting to change the law. Tory Dean Russell considers it “totally unfair” that changes can take place without asking those who depend on services.
On Tuesday the Watford MP will introduce a Bill to ensure passengers can let operators know how timetable alterations will affect their lives.
He is alarmed that bus users sometimes discover changes have been made only when they are “rushing to catch a bus that will not arrive”.
Mr Russell said: “Buses are relied upon by so many as their mode of transport. And so often people feel like they are an afterthought when timetable changes are being made.
“Bus passengers are often hard-working people who just want to get to their job on time. When timetables change without their knowledge, it can have major ramifications for their lives. That isn’t fair.”
The Conservative MP has met transport minister Richard Holden to discuss his proposals. He said: “The Government has been rightly investing heavily in bus transport.
“I am simply asking that passengers are given a voice in changes to timetables. It is not right for the companies and local governments to make changes without actively engaging the people who would be impacted by the changes.”
Claire Walters, chief executive of Bus Users UK, said: “If services aren’t built around the needs of the people who use them we will continue to see a decline in buses and a rise in car use, adding to congestion, pollution, and inequality. Changing the law to make this happen is a worthwhile long-term goal but in the short term, we need operators and local authorities to recognise the value of putting passengers first.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We know how important local bus services are.
“This is why we require operators to tell local authorities and the traffic commissioner when they intend to change a timetable.
“We expect local authorities to consider the views of local people as part of this process.”
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