Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/405/4614
First bus company raises fares and cuts services
This time last year, Sheffield Socialist Party members were on picket lines supporting South Yorkshire First bus drivers striking for better pay. Now we are campaigning against First's fare rises and cuts in services.
Liz Morton, Sheffield Socialist Party
In the last six months, the two bus routes serving my locality had been reduced and then withdrawn altogether, along with five others around the city. Many people in this area work at the hospital and now have about an hour added on to their daily journeys to and from work.
By withdrawing these services, the bus companies have given no thought to the needs of the community. Their only motivation is profit, so if your route does not make enough money - tough.
This comes after three rounds of fare rises in the last six months. So it is not surprising that the number of people using buses is going down and the city is "gridlocked" by cars!
There were 350 million bus journeys made in South Yorkshire before the buses were privatised (euphemistically called 'deregulation') by Thatcher in 1987 - last year there were only 112 million.
Before privatisation, the return on capital invested in the bus company was a modest 3% but this year First's target is 15%. Nationally, First made £107 million profit last year. This is totally unacceptable.
Private rail operators are receiving huge subsidies from public funds. Stagecoach paid a give-away price for Sheffield's Supertram (built with £250 million of taxpayers' money and sold to Stagecoach for £2 million).
We must on behalf of our communities, call for the re-nationalisation of the public transport system, putting passengers before profit.
In The Socialist 25 August 2005: