Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Go North East Campaign Shifts up a Gear

Bus operator Go North East has stepped up its opposition to plans for councillors to seize control of Tyne and Wear’s bus services.

A specially-liveried double deck bus has taken to the streets of the county to promote the company’s ‘Say Yes Now’ campaign.

Nexus and the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority want to control where and when the buses run through contracts, but Go North East thinks this would be a bad idea for the county.

Martin Harris, Go North East’s commercial director, said: “Contracts like the scheme that Nexus is proposing might work in London, but at huge cost. London’s buses are heavily subsidised by council tax payers and London’s motorists through the Congestion Charge. Councillors up here have ruled out congestion charging for our towns and cities, so council tax payers will have to be prepared to dig deep in their pockets if this scheme goes ahead.”

Go North East is offering a counter proposal that instead uses Quality Partnerships to manage local bus services.

Mr. Harris said: “Quality Partnerships put the needs of bus users and local communities first, without burdening local councils with the financial risk of a bus network that costs about £140 million to run.

“We recognise that things have to change – nothing stays the same. That’s why we’ve published a ‘Charter for Positive Change’ that outlines just some of the benefits that can flow from a partnership approach.”

The contracts being advocated by Nexus could see popular cheap local tickets being scrapped in favour of expensive county-wide schemes and buses being taken off where they run near the heavily subsidised Metro system.

Mr. Harris said: “Nine out of ten buses in Tyne and Wear run without any subsidy at all. 92% of our customers have said for two years running that they’re satisfied or very satisfied with their buses – that’s the highest satisfaction rate in the country.

“Placing control of the buses into the public sector, at a time when public finances are already under severe pressure, simply doesn’t make sense.”

The ‘Say Yes Now’ campaign bus will be seen on busy routes across the North East.