Kerry McCarthy Labour MP for Bristol East
Today Kerry and her fellow Bristol Labour MP, Dawn Primarolo, met with Tony Anthistle, the Managing Director of First Group buses for an update on what is happening with the local bus services in Bristol. They discussed the proposals to create more Showcase Bus Routes in Bristol, with the promise of another 42 million in Government funding in the pipeline. In other good news, they were told that Real Time Information at bus stops is being introduced during 2007, which means that passengers will be told whether their bus service is running late, and how long they can expect to wait. Other technological developments include the use of satellite tracking, so that if buses are ‘bunched’ or running late, traffic signals can be altered to allow them to reach their destination sooner. Kerry also raised concerns which had been brought to her attention by local pensioners, about their subsidised fares; some customers, having been issued with tickets to the end of the route, when they were only going a few stops, had suspected this was a scam by the bus company to retrieve more by way of subsidy from the council. Mr Anthistle confirmed, however, that the subsidies are based on the number of journeys, not length of journeys, which is also why pensioners cannot be issued with return tickets. Young people have frequently told Kerry they would like to see free travel for under 16s (or under 18s), as is the case in London. Mr Antistle said that this was not something the bus company would introduce of its own accord, as there was no business case for it; it would be up to the Government to decide to introduce a subsidy, as they had done for pensioners. He also said that the introduction of such a scheme in London had led to some problems, with young people using the top decks of buses as meeting places, i.e. somewhere warm where they could ride round all day and night without having to pay any fares.