Public transport in Salford is in chaos. The city of Salford is one of the most deprived cities in the United Kingdom yet public transport costs compared to other cities is much higher on average. The nearest comparison is Manchester.
Manchester's public transport costs are on average around 50% cheaper than in Salford. Manchester has an abundance of bus services and on some routes more than one company providing a service. This I am in no doubt reduces fares as each operator has to compete with each other.
The main bus provider in manchester is Stagecoach which is far cheaper than the main provider for most routes in Salford First Buses. The costs of First Buses has increased dramatically again this year being £4.50 for a daily pass compared to manchester around £3.00.
Each year in Salford we hear local politicians make their yearly rant in local newspapers about how unhappy they are with the ever incresing costs of providing bus services in Salford compared to neighbouring manchester yet First Buses with complete arrogance virtually ignore anything our local politicians have to say on the matter.
No doubt privatisation may have something to do with this but I believe despite the rhetoric and no action more can be done to curb this company ripping off Salfordians just for using the bus.
So why is First Buses are just doing what they want in Salford, taking no notice of our local elected representatives which has resulted in a massive increase in fares in recent years ?
This is my opinion.
First Buses in Salford which operate between Bolton and manchester, their union is Unite Union. A powerful union indeed which sponsors and supports The Labour Party. The Labour Party control Salford City Council so there is hardly any political incentives to get anything substantial done to keep fares down. Like I said just rhetoric.
Obviously, bus drivers should be well rewarded for a good days work but in times of hardship for many families costs should be kept under control for those that use the buses and the hard-line militant tendancies that operate from Unite I am in no doubt are contributing to ever increasing fares because of their yearly demands of wage increases.
It is well known First Buses drivers are paid well above that of their counterpart drivers at Stagecoach.
Also, First Buses as a private enterprise have to keep their profits up last year in manchester making well over 100 million pounds in profit. They are to blame too.
What is needed in Salford is an elected representative that will stand up to this company and tell them in no uncertain terms that if fares are not made reasonable all efforts will be made to bring companies in like Stagecoach to provide services which will increase competition in the city which in turn will reduce fares.
A strong directly-elected mayor with the political will to do this can do it, otherwise bus fares in this city will become unnaffordable for many in the city.