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The image of the bus as a second-rate, second-class form of transport ...
The image of the bus as a second-rate, second-class form of transport

must be swept away, said deputy prime minister John Prescott today.

Speaking at the first ever bus summit, the deputy prime minister,

welcomed examples of good practice in the bus industry, but warned

that a nation-wide improvement of services was vital to attract new


Mr Prescott announced a cash injection of£50m to boost the£1bn of government money already invested in buses each year, and welcomed a number of industry commitments made at the summit, including:

- today's launch of the first regional public transport hotline for

Yorkshire and Humberside, giving information about train and bus


- a new 'passenger's charter' developed by the National Federation of

Bus Users and the bus industry

To raise the performance of all operators, Mr Prescott announced new

national targets for bus reliability and investment and said that

operators would be held accountable to passengers through regular

satisfaction surveys.

'The governments' top priority is to put passengers first, by

ensuring that good quality, comprehensive services are available

across the country. Buses offer the cheapest, most comprehensive and

accessible form of public transport in the UK, but they too often

fall short of passenger expectations. It is time to turn our backs on

an era characterised by poor marketing, poor quality buses, confusing

networks, inflexible ticketing and constant timetable changes.'

Mr Prescott said he was pleased that the majority of the industry was

rising to the challenge of transforming and modernising bus travel in


'Buses are crucial to local transport, and should more often be a

first choice, not a last resort. The new generation of buses can be

comfortable, clean and more accessible. New technology and better

road layouts allow buses to beat traffic jams. Manufacturers and bus

operators are working hard to provide what passengers want, and good

service is being rewarded with increasing bus use in many areas.'


The bus summit took place at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference

Centre, London, with an invited audience of some 200 delegates

including representatives from the bus industry, local authorities,

national organisations and user groups.

The government's policy proposals for buses were set out in the

daughter document 'From workhorse to thoroughbred - a better role for

bus travel' published by DETR in March 1999. Over 9000 copies were


The government made available in last year's Budget an extra£150m for rural transport, increased by a further£20m for England in this year's Budget. In England, local authorities have used the money to provide 1,800 new and improved rural services. The funds are also being used to support over 40 innovative rural schemes through the rural bus challenge for England, totalling£11.4m.

£15m is available for this year's challenge.

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