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No hasty fare increases

23rd July 1971, Page 21
23rd July 1971
Page 21
Page 21, 23rd July 1971 — No hasty fare increases
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

• The largest of the four Passenger Transport Authorities, SELNEC, has promised that there will be no hasty acts to increase fares, decrease services or seek a precept on the rates without thorough examination when it takes over responsibility next January for British Rail local passenger lines in the greater Manchester area.

A total of 24 services are involved and these are currently running at a deficit of £5m a year covered by a Government grant. If SELNEC PTA continues to maintain these at the present level on takeover they will eventually have to meet this themselves, although for the four years 1972-76 the Government is to pay substantial grants to ease the burden. A gradual withdrawal of grants however means the Authority will face 10 per cent of the loss on local rail services in 1972 which at present levels represents £500,000, 20 per cent in 1973, 30 per cent in 1974 and 40 per cent in 1975. With the advent in 1976 of the new Metropolitan County Councils which are expected to take over from the PTA's the responsibility for public transport as part of local Government reorganisation, the whole position will be reviewed.

The Orders made earlier this month by the Minister of Transport Industries, Mr John Peyton, which passed the responsibility of local rail services to the PTA's under the 1968 Transport Act, had been anticipated. SELNEC and British Railways have in fact been conducting very close and detailed discussions on the services and a great deal of work is in hand already.

Detailed investigations of several of the 24 local rail services to ascertain how they fit in with available PTE bus services, the extent of car park provision, and comparative fare structures, are now under way. A spokesman for SELNEC said there was no question of bus users finding themselves in the 'extraordinary position of subsidizing railway passengers through fare increases made to Meet the rail deficit. The question of rail service curtailment or axing of lines which did not pay would be considered entirely in the light of an integrated public transport system.

However, where there were adequate bus services available it was possible that loss making rail lines would be curtailed. On the other hand where unremunerative bus services existed, the possibility of whether passengers could be channelled to rail without inconvenience would be investigated.

Tyneside PTE is also making preparations for the integration' of rail passenger services with the bus network from the beginning of next year. The rail services are losing about Elm annually, though again a similar sliding scale of Government subsidies is to be paid. The balance will be met by higher fares or contributions from local rates.


People: John Peyton
Locations: Manchester

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