Deregulated buses in Oxfordshire

Letter in today’s Daily Telegraph:

Sir- I agree with Ken Livingstone (Letters, September 11).

In Boris Johnson’s native Oxfordshire, where bus services are operated by a number of different companies, I often find myself waiting for a late-running bus. In the meantime, I have to let another bus, which is going to my desired destination, pass me by, carrying at most two passengers. The reason is that I have a monthly ticket for one operator’s buses which the others will not accept.

Whenever I visit London, it is refreshing to be able to use my travelcard on any bus that happens to be going in the right direction, or indeed on any Tube or DLR train. Londoners may complain about their transport system, but perhaps they should first try using public transport in other parts of the country.

Any move to further deregulation would be a disastrous step in the wrong direction.

Jonathan Rawle, Didcot, Oxfordshire

I should first add that they do edit readers’ letters: I actually wrote, “I have to agree with Ken Livingstone,” which subtly alters the emphasis. After all, there are probably issues on which I don’t agree with Ken, and agreeing is not a decision I take lightly!

They also left out my remark that the system of buses in London is the same as that found in other European cities, with the implication being that the UK is the only country where different bus companies operate with completely separate timetables and ticketing systems. (Is that actually true, I wonder? Does anyone know of a city on the continent where buses are like those in the UK outside London?)

The bus routes in question receive around £220,000 each year in subsidy. At the very least, it should be possible for passengers to travel on any subsidised bus. Given that the services are already quite infrequent, it’s ridiculous to have a system where passengers aren’t able to make full use of the buses that are on offer. It’s a waste of public money.

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