Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/416/4732
We want our buses back!
SHEFFIELD PEOPLE will march this Saturday to show their anger at South Yorkshire First's latest 15-20% bus fare rise which comes into effect on that day. We Want Our Buses Back (WWOBB), the broad-based campaign group initiated by the Socialist Party, has called the demonstration to demand "Put Passengers Before Profit."
Thatcher's deregulation and privatisation in 1987 has led to private operators like First gaining a near-monopoly. They raise fares and cut services without any regulation.
Last year First nationally made £96 million profit. But the bus drivers don't see any of it. Last summer, drivers in Sheffield were forced to go on strike for three weeks to get starter drivers onto £6 an hour. First bus-drivers in Stoke are currently taking strike action for a decent wage (see page 11). No wonder the company can't get and keep drivers and have to advertise for bus drivers in Poland!
Passengers are being ripped off as well. This will be the fourth fare rise in Sheffield this year, tickets costing 36% more than last year! The main adult single fare is going up to £1.50 and the day "saver" (joke!) to £3.50.
People are being priced off the buses back into their cars. This increases the gridlock into the city centre making the buses even more unreliable, so less people use them, so services are cut, and fares put up again... Traffic pollution is increasing - air quality has got worse over the last five years.
But many people have no choice. 38% of Sheffield people don't own or have access to a car. These fare rises hit working-class people the hardest.
Four more years! That's how long Sheffield Council's transport chief says we must wait for the city's bus services to improve. 2009 is when the council hope to introduce Quality Bus Contracts (a form of partial regulation). We can't wait that long. Nobody will be able to afford to catch a bus by then.
That's why WWOBB has organised this demonstration against the fare rises and First's profiteering. And we also want to pressure the council into action. If they really want a return to quality public transport then they will have to make a stand against the private profiteers and their own pro-privatisation New Labour government.
Only public ownership of all public transport can provide the necessary investment, planning and integration to put passengers first.
We Want Our Buses Back!
Demonstrate against fare rises
Saturday 19 November.
Assemble 11am at City Hall for protest march and rally
In The Socialist 17 November 2005: