Kevin Greenway, Birmingham Socialist Party
Bromsgrove Socialist Party, new members and supporters, were out on the High Street on 11 June.
We were campaigning to save bus services in the town and beyond. The 144 has run from Worcester – Bromsgrove – Birmingham for 100 years. It was originally completely cut, with no consultation with passengers. Public anger and concern resulted in a reprieve and a review. The reprieve still means changes to the route, and a reduced service, with serious impacts for all who rely on the 144. Essential workers told us that they face massively increased costs as they now use taxis.
First Bus, which ran the service, is part of a stock market-listed multinational that has rail, bus and tram services in the UK and the USA. Passengers have come second in the hunt for profits. This all results from Tory deregulation in 1986.
We spoke with bus drivers about pressurised working conditions, rural passengers who face cut services, and workers struggling to make ends meet with increased travel and general costs.
Worcestershire County Council asked the government for £86 million to support bus services in the county but the government refused.
People agreed with us that we can have no faith in the Tories at county level securing money from a Tory government, and many agreed that transport should be publicly owned and run, as well as free, as it is in other parts of the world and the UK. Passengers, unions and campaigners need to unite to pressure the council to ensure the full restoration of the 144 bus service.