Burnham hails bus ruling as "green light’" for North of England
Andy Burnham has hailed a judge’s ruling which allows Greater Manchester to bring its buses under public control as a “green light” for the North of England.
The mayor described the decision as “vindication” and “truly fantastic news” which will see a return to a bus service based around people and not profit.It comes after a judicial review brought by bus firms Stagecoach and Rotala, who claimed Mr Burnham’s bid to move to a franchising system where operators have to bid to run services under public control, was “irrational” and “unlawful”.However, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Justice Julian Knowles ruled that the mayor’s decision and the process followed were lawful.Responding to the ruling, Mr Burnham urged the bus operators not to appeal the decision, asking them to accept it so that Greater Manchester can “crack on” creating a London-style public transport system.
He promised the bus reforms would benefit everybody with less congestion on the roads, a simpler public transport system and an improved quality of life.Defending increases to council tax in April which are in part to pay for these plans, he said bringing buses back under public control is about “giving back” an affordable integrated public transport network known as the Bee Network.And the Labour mayor called on the government to back Greater Manchester with a package of funding to support the type of transport system the Tories have promised – and he hopes it will pave the way for other cities in the North.He said: “In some ways, we’re going to help them to deliver on what they’ve promised to do. That’s why I’m saying form a partnership here.“We’re ready to go, the more the government back us, the better it can be.“But make no mistake, we will do this in any event.“It’s just a case that the more the government support us with the funding that they’ve promised, the more we’ll be able to reduce fares, increase the frequency of services and get that change to the bus fleet so that it is more modern.”