Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley, has been busy getting his name into the papers over the past week. While it's hard to find sympathy with his views on Dyslexia (in a nutshell, that it's made up to cover up poor teaching), you can't fault his enthusiasm for Greater Manchester's public transport. While he was opposed the recently failed TIF bid, he always said he supported improvements to public transport but that a congestion charge was the wrong way to fund them.
Now David Ottewell has brought our attention to a hint at Stringer's 'Plan-B'. In an Early Day Motion submitted last Wednesday he put the boot into First's price increases in the region. "These increases", he writes, "will hit those on low incomes the hardest, will offer further encouragement to the long-term decline in bus usage in the city and come after First Bus has announced profits of £180 million for the last six months accounting period, up from £103 million for the same period in 2007".
The Motion goes on to call on First to "rethink these unacceptable increases" and on GMPTA/E to think about launching a public consultation on the possibility of using new powers in the Local Transport Act 2008 to establish quality contracts and remove the ability of bus operators to impose fare increases of this scale.
Quality Contracts allow local authorities to apply conditions (such as minimum frequencies and limits on fare increases) on bus operator's services. While you'd think operators would oppose them, it might not be that difficult to get First to agree to such a contract. First's South Yorkshire arm have already signalled their interest in entering into a Quality Contract with SYPTE.
Given their history of vigorousy defending their right to innovate on their own terms, we can't see Stagecoach being so easy to persuade!
[Image credit: Coradia1000 on Flickr]