Early in March, my attention was drawn to a BBC Radio 4 programme, Any Questions?, which held a discussion in Leeds with three MPs and a business leader. One of the questions asked was: “What do you think the integrated rail plan and HS2 will do for Yorkshire, and do you think they are worth the £100bn or more planned to be spent on them?”
After claiming that the HS2 plan had been improved, Miriam Cates, Conservative MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, added: “I’m more concerned about buses. Particularly in rural areas, most people are not near a train station and buses are far more important.
“We’ve got a problem at the moment that we’ve got a bus system that works okay in urban areas, but really does not work in rural areas. We need a better model, and we’ve got some great ideas in my patch, but we do need our big mayoral authorities to see the potential.” It’s a very good sign when a politician speaks voluntarily about buses, especially a Conservative. The subject was brought up by her without prompting, in response to a question about an alternative form of public transport.