It is hard to understate the amount of change heralded in Bus Back Better, the government’s long anticipated national bus strategy for England.
If it delivers what it promises, then the industry and its passengers are on the brink of a life-changing revolution. One that comes with prime ministerial endorsement from a politician who says he loves buses and wants bus travel to be a practical alternative for many more people than perceive it as such today. One who also appears to acknowledge the weaknesses of policies implemented by previous governments of his own party.
‘We must hope the public falls in love with the bus as it has with the NHS’
Boris Johnson’s bus strategy takes aim at two cornerstones of Conservative bus policy.
The bigger one is maybe the less surprising. Nearly 35 years have elapsed since Nicholas Ridley, the most radical of Margaret Thatcher’s transport secretaries, deregulated bus services and made them largely commercial. Those principal players have long since died and time allows everyone — even a younger generation of political sympathisers — to judge where that approach might have gone wrong.