Youth campaigners demand better busesYouth campaigners

COMMUNITY and activist groups will be marching on Saturday September 9 to demand a better bus network for the West of England.

Led by two youth climate groups, Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate (BYS4C) and Extinction Rebellion Youth Bristol (BYS4C), the coalition will be holding a rally at 1pm on College Green. A march will then proceed through the city centre at 2pm, finishing at the combined authority offices in Redcliff.

BYS4C and XRYB are demanding the following:

• Free – for under 25s, students, and apprentices

• Fair – access for riders and conditions for drivers

• Franchised – for people not profit.

The campaigners say that we need to take public control of our local buses through ‘franchising‘. With a franchised bus network, local governments would decide routes, timetables, and fares. Bus companies would compete to operate routes would have to meet the criteria set out by the local/combined authority. 

This would prevent cuts to routes and frequency, help reduce fares, integrate different companies’ routes and tickets, and hold bus operators to account.

In the Greater Bristol/Bath area, this could be done by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), led by Metro Mayor Dan Norris. 

Bristol-based student Sam, 20, said: “Our local buses are in a dire state. Dozens of route cuts have also isolated some people without cars from local services, education, jobs, and socialising, especially in rural areas, affecting the young, elderly, and working classes.

” On top of this, young person and student fares have continued to rise, despite a cap on adult fares. 

“It’s time we took the common sense step of delivering a bus network that works for all our communities, with public control being the best way of achieving this goal.”

Youth climate activist Josh, 18, said: “We all know that we’re in a climate emergency, with all the local authorities in the Bristol/Bath area committed to net-zero by 2030, but we also face a significant challenge with air pollution locally. 

“That means a large shift towards public transport, walking, and cycling is needed, but to do that we need a reliable, cheap, and sustainable alternative to driving. 

“Our current bus system doesn’t deliver that, with delays, cancellations, and route cuts being all too common.”

Local campaigner Hannah, 22, said: “Public control works well for London and is being adopted by both Manchester and Wales – we need Metro Mayor Dan Norris to take action now to fix our broken buses.”