Buses are at the heart of the Government’s transformative agenda and, with that, we have a new £220 million fund to make sure buses are working across our urban and rural areas. We are putting together the UK’s first long-term bus strategy.
Newcastle-under-Lyme is one of the largest towns in England without a train station. We also suffer from very heavy congestion on the roads into Stoke-on-Trent. Does the Minister agree, therefore, that Newcastle-under-Lyme, and north Staffordshire more widely, should be at the front of the queue for a new Superbus funding settlement?
My hon. Friend has made a stellar pitch for the new Superbus fund both today and previously in a Westminster Hall debate. It would be remiss of me to say anything at the moment. All the proposals are being assessed, and I assure him that the announcement will be made very soon.
The Government have quite clearly failed on buses. They have cut funding by 45% since 2010, and passenger numbers have plummeted. In contrast, the few remaining municipal bus companies run by Labour councils have both low fares and rising passenger numbers. When will the Minister allow councils to bring buses back into public ownership to provide the quality of service to passengers that local people desperately need?
It is a shame that the hon. Member is always running down buses and does not even speak about the network in his constituency, where bus patronage is going up. We have just committed a further £220 million. Furthermore, on the request of the Transport Committee and a number of people lobbying for the very same thing that we have wanted for so long, we have committed to a long-term bus strategy.