'Help us get more people on the buses' - EYMS boss
THE boss of a bus company has called on the Government to do more to encourage people to use public transport.
Peter Shipp, group chairman and chief executive of East Yorkshire Motor Services (EYMS), says bus companies are doing all they can to persuade people to swap their cars for buses.
But he says the Government, in return, needs to play its part by supporting independent bus companies.
Mr Shipp said: "The Government keeps saying it wants to see more people using the nation's bus network.
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"But it seems to me the Treasury is going in the opposite direction and doing little to help the industry.
"The time has come where we need actions, not just words, from the Government."
Mr Shipp was speaking at the annual Association of Local Bus Managers' (Album) conference at Forest Pines Hotel, near Scunthorpe.
The function was attended by Norman Baker MP, the parliamentary undersecretary minister for transport.
Mr Baker told more than 250 delegates they were weathering the recession well and pledged further financial support.
He said: "The industry is not perfect, but it is in a pretty reasonable shape. The future looks pretty good for you.
"Having a good independent bus sector is very important to this country.
"We will do everything we can to support you."
Mr Baker praised EYMS for riding out the recession.
He said: "EYMS has been going for more than 70 years. There is credit to be given for that. It is a real achievement."
EYMS, along with main competitor Stagecoach, has been forced to increase fares because of rising fuel prices.
Mr Shipp, who announced hikes of about 10 per cent on selected routes in March, said the industry cannot afford to keep absorbing hikes in fuel duty.
He said reductions in the local council subsidies in return for carrying concessionary fares was also crippling the fragile industry.
Mr Shipp said: "We need the support of the Government. The industry is facing a lot of challenges.
"We are very important. The bus network makes more trips than the railway, including London Underground."
Despite the fare rises, Mr Shipp said he wanted the conference to be upbeat and focus on areas firms could improve.
"The conference is about sharing ideas and improving the quality of our services for our customers," he said.
Mr Shipp said EYMS is introducing 22 "second-hand" buses to its routes, which, with their lower floors, will make life for the disabled and elderly.
The slogan for this year's conference was "making friends and influencing people".
Mr Shipp said: "The event is about networking and coming together to find practical ways of pleasing our customers.
"The conference is very well attended this year with more than 250 delegates and 50 exhibitors offering everything from oil to seating and flooring."