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Begg demands municipal right to subsidise buses

LOCAL AUTHORITIES must be allowed to start subsidising bus fares, Commission for Integrated Transport chairman David Begg told a fringe meeting at this week's Labour Party conference.

With fares in danger of going up because of higher oil prices and rising bus drivers' wages, the Government was urged to remove barriers which prevent local authorities from subsidising bus fares.

'The Government has increased the capital investment on public transport but there is still much to do on fares, ' said Begg. 'We lag behind the rest of Europe on the amount we subsidise public transport. Germany spends 50% more per head than we do and France 30% more.'

He also urged transport minister Lord MacDonald to consider ensuring that the annual £300M fuel duty rebate for bus companies was ringfenced for lower fares.

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