Mark Eastwood MP: We need to get more people out of their cars and on to public transport
Mark Eastwood MP writes: On May 28, the TransPennine Express contract will come to an end, and it will revert back to public ownership. I’ve welcomed this step, but I’m disappointed that it has come to this, as it’s due to the operator FirstGroup having failed to provide the standard of service that is essential to a properly functioning rail network.
I’ve received countless emails from people who travel to and from Dewsbury and rely on this service frustrated with cancellations, delays, industrial action and generally poor performance. We need to get more people out of their cars and on to public transport, but that can’t happen if they don’t know whether or not a train will turn up on time, if at all.
As was the case with Northern Rail previously, the services currently offered by TransPennine Express will now be run by a service in public ownership, but it will be up to the government, Transport for the North, the Mayor of West Yorkshire and the unions to work together to ensure that passengers are getting the best possible service regardless of who runs the franchise.
I am determined to secure better rail access for people who live in Dewsbury and the surrounding areas, and Dewsbury will be a beneficiary of the upgrades and electrification outlined in the integrated rail plan. I’ve also been working with my colleague Miriam Cates, the MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge to improve the Penistone line, and calling for more funding to upgrade all of our stations with better accessibility features for people with disabilities.
It’s not just rail that needs improvement – buses too are a vital lifeline for people throughout the constituency, but especially in rural areas and more deprived areas where fewer people have cars.
I was very pleased to see the government’s announcement that the £2 bus fare cap will continue until October of this year. It’s been a huge help to people with the cost of living crisis, and it’s meant that people have been encouraged to take the bus when they might have used a car due to uncertainty about cost, but there is still more to do.
“Bus Back Better” – the government’s national bus strategy – not only sets out the ambitious goals for cleaner, greener transport, but also talks about some of the other common-sense improvements we can make to the bus network, like ensuring that bus stops include enough information about the services stopping there, and making sure that two services in the same town don’t have the same number, confusing passengers. Tickets need to be simpler and affordable and buses and places to wait for them need to be safe and accessible for all.
Just like with TransPennine Express, however, improving our public transport will be down to agencies and individuals working together to get the best outcome for the people we serve.
If you have feedback on public transport, or any issues with your local services that you’d like me to look into don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
My team and I are here to help on this or any other issue – please feel free to contact me via email at [email protected] or telephone on 01924 939 007.