Manchester operators attack mayors ‘bus passenger tax’

The organisation representing Greater Manchester commercial bus operators has attacked mayor Andy Burnham’s plans for a £100 per day levy on buses, labelling it a “bus passenger tax”.

The mayor has announced that buses will be charged to drive in and around Greater Manchester from 2021, with vans hit with a penalty from 2023, in order to address pollution levels.

Chief executive of operator group OneBus, Gary Nolan claims the tax misses the point by exempting private cars and does nothing to tackle congestion across the region, with regular commuters set to bear the brunt.

“It’s very disappointing that buses are being singled out by this tax and it’s passengers who will suffer in the end,” says Nolan. “This bus passenger tax does not tackle the biggest source of pollution in Greater Manchester – and that’s cars.

“Figures from the Department for Transport show that there were more than 1.14 million cars licensed in Greater Manchester at the end of 2017, some 17,600 more than in 2016 and 75,400 more than in 2012.

“More than a third of these are diesel cars and – along with vans, which will be exempt from the tax until 2023 – they are responsible for 71% of NOx pollution, whilst buses and coaches make up just 6 per cent of the figure.”

OneBus recently launched plans for a £100million partnership to improve the bus network including plans to ease the cost of travel and tackle the region’s growing congestion and air pollution crisis. It promised 450 new low-emission buses over the next three years to boost the region’s air quality, with the first 150 delivered by 2020.

Ian Humphreys, managing director, First Manchester, adds: “We fully support the need to improve air quality and the environment across the Greater Manchester area. We are however disappointed to learn that additional taxation is to be used as the first key step in the plan as it is not helpful and an added burden on those who will ultimately pay and may not be able to afford it – especially those in the more deprived communities we serve.

“Bus passengers should be encouraged and rewarded for their choice of travel mode rather than being penalised as they are making a contribution to improving our environment.”

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