14 April 2023
Katherine Barbour, Jonathan Bean and Helen Makrakis of Southampton and District Green Party, attended the overview and scrutiny meeting on Thursday 13th April. They presented a petition from over 1000 city residents seeking the introduction of £1 bus fares.
Currently there are £1 evening bus fares which have proved hugely popular and increased footfall on the city buses. Central Government is funding £2 bus fares until the end of June but after this time fares will return to their previous levels.
Getting people out of cars and onto buses is a key feature of Green Party policy. It has so many benefits, such as reducing the number of cars on the city roads, reducing pollution and traffic jams, providing a service that everyone can use, reducing frustration at hold ups and accessing Wi-Fi on the bus to work or relax on the journey.
Helen Makrakis said: “shops and businesses need footfall to survive – buses help
“The current system is one sided when some people can afford to travel in luxury around the world and others who cannot even afford to travel across the city. As a council we can address this through reducing bus fares and showing our citizens we have their back.!”
Katherine Barbour thanked everyone who had signed the petition and to the scrutiny panel for hearing this petition. She said,
“this is a multi-faceted issue that would have huge benefits for our community. The safety of young people needs to be considered in this week when a young person was sexually assaulted in the local park and as young people have to pay full fares from age 16 these are the people who would really benefit from reduced fares.”
At the meeting the costs of introducing this policy were described as being between £3.8 and £8.5m and there is no budget for this in the council. The petition was rejected.
The Green Party asked for this to be something that the city should aspire to and that if funds are made available again from the Department of Transport Southampton should bid for these. It is disappointing that Southampton was not successful in the last round of funding.
At the conclusion of the meeting the recommendations taken forward were for the bus user forum to be included in the enhanced bus partnership meetings, for this ambition to be added to the plans for the city, for £1 fares to be available for all not just for certain members of the city if funding is made available and for the city to continue to seek funding streams to further this work.
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