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'Fragile' local economies at risk from transport cuts

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England’s conurbations should not lose vital transport funds in next week’s spending review the Passenger Transport Executive Group has warned.

PTEG, which represents passenger transport executives in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, West Midlands and West Yorkshire, said in a submission to the Treasury that it feared that transport outside London could suffer severe cuts because spending is not tied into long-term contracts used in the capital.

Its chair Neil Scales said: “Some of the areas we serve have fragile local economies, and there’s a growing body of evidence to suggest that these are the areas that could also be most affected by wider reductions in public spending.”

PTEG warned that a high proportion of transport spending in conurbations is non-discretionary, for example on the national concessionary bus fares scheme, so any cuts in revenue spend would fall heavily on the rest of their work, such as bus stations and cheap fares for young people and jobseekers.

It also called for the £446m spent on both concessionary fare and bus fuel subsidies to be devolved to the passenger transport executives, which PTEG said could spend the money more effectively than does central government.

Mr Scales said: “We need to ensure that we make the best use of subsidy which we believe can be achieved by routing the funding to PTEs who because of their local knowledge and their role on local transport plans, are in the best position to maximise the benefits from those subsidy flows.”

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