While welcoming the government’s £5bn pledge to boost bus and cycling services, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Tuesday 11 February) that the announcement should be taken ‘with a pinch of salt’, given Boris Johnson’s record on big infrastructure projects.

Unite national officer for passenger transport Bobby Morton said: “Unite has thousands of members working in the bus industry across the country and we welcome this announcement which promises to improve frequency and fares as well as providing 4,000 zero-emission buses in England and Wales.

“This bus bonanza could herald a new dawn for passengers and those working in the industry, after a decade of neglect of this sector by successive Tory governments. But we will need to look at the fine print before commenting more fully.

“Should these ambitious plans come to fruition in the next five years, we will need to  ensure that they do not come at the expense of the pay, and terms and conditions of our members. We won’t tolerate any ‘race to the bottom’ in this respect.

“If Boris Johnson was serious about this, a good start would be to reverse the austerity measures which led to the axing of 3,000 routes in England alone, consequently cutting off people and communities from work, leisure and healthcare facilities.

“Also, this statement needs to come with a health warning, given Boris Johnson’s record on his non-delivery of infrastructure projects – we only have to look at the garden bridge across the Thames when he was mayor of London which cost the taxpayer millions of pounds before it was abandoned.

“His vaunted ‘Boris Island’ airport in the Thames estuary suffered a similar fate.

“We also fear that this announcement is tied into the expansion of HS2 and is being used to placate the Tory opponents of the rail project.

“For all these reasons, while welcoming this much-needed expansion in bus services, it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating.”

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065. Email: shaun.noble@unitetheunion.org

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.