Friday, July 06, 2007
PTA Transport Network committee this morning
First, I asked about delays to commuters struggling on the Metrolink replacement buses whilst the track is closed. I have used the service myself, and whilst I think it is running well off-peak, at rush-hour the journey from Prestwich to Manchester is taking far too long. Sometimes up to an hour to travel 4 miles. I asked whether alternative routes or extra bus priorities could be explored, and officers said that they would investigate the matter. It was also the common view that once the school traffic has disappeared from the roads in a couple of weeks, the issue should be eased somewhat until September, by which time (hopefully!) the track replacement will be more or less complete.
I also raised the issue of concessionary bus travel fares, having promised to do so at the Youth Cabinet on Tuesday. Complaints to GMPTE nearly doubled in the three months to March, mainly as a result of complaints relating to the increase in concessionary fares from 50p to 70p. I asked for more dialogue to be put in place between the PTE and youth organisations to try and counteract negative implications of massive fare increases like this.
I know that a lot of families find it difficult to afford to send their children to school on the bus, and children themselves are more reluctant to use buses at other times because of the cost. The Chair of the PTA, Cllr Roger Jones, told me that GMPTA is one of only a few PTAs not to have half fares as the standard rate for children, and that this may have to be considered in future to make up funding shortfalls. I think that this would be a backward step, since it would further discourage young people from using more public transport. We need to make public transport as cheap and affordable as possible for the young, just as it is for the old (they travel free, remember). If we turn our children off public transport at such an early age, what hope is there for them using it when they're older?