A decent regular minibus service to our local communities is therefore not a luxury. It is a critically important service, especially for teenagers and the elderly, yet it is one that has been cut beyond the point where it is of real use to many people. When bus services prove uneconomic to run regularly there is no getting away from the fact that we need government subsidy to tip the balance.
When it comes to generating the income to pay the taxes to support such subsidies effective public transport is equally important. Give George Osborne his due, he may be a slow learner but when there was six months to go before an election he did finally get round to realising that the north of England could be transformed into a much more effective economic powerhouse if its public transport was improved.
At the moment if you want to live in Skipton but work in Manchester you simply can't do so unless you own a car and are prepared to put up with lengthy traffic jams. If you live in Ripon you don't even have the luxury of a station since it got closed in 1969. Linking the northern towns and cities by a quick and efficient rail network is the single best way of creating an integrated northern economy that can provide the critical mass of employment and skilled workers needed to compete internationally.
Greater Manchester has a population of over 2.5 million and with Leeds/Bradford this goes over 4 million. Yet the train services between the cities trundle along between them and you cannot even get to these cities directly from Skipton or at all from Ripon. At the moment George Osborne is talking about backing HS3 to be built sometime in the future after HS2. Or approximately 20 years before it opens. The north can't wait that long for action. It should come before any HS2 and we need to start now on smaller scale practical improvements such as the Skipton to Colne railway - a project which could be turned into reality rapidly and cheaply. We also need urgent work on improved integration of the service so that it operates as a single northern tube network.
And there is the rub. A single integrated service that operates in a way that people can understand. Not a hodge-podge of different companies running services that aren't properly linked together and which have a complex mess of fares and tariffs that confuse even the most computer literate people. We need to steadily move the railways back into nationalisation so that we can invest properly in them. The private sector can't possibly produce investment capital unless the money comes back to them in the form of fares or government subsidies. It then has to make a profit as well. Since railways can never properly benefit from the advantages of competition we need to stop fooling ourselves that the private sector can invent new resources. If we want a co-ordinated transport system connecting us to a northern powerhouse then we are going to have to plan it and operate in a co-ordinated way and ultimately that means public ownership.
And the current government's response? They re-privatised the East Coast line despite the fact that it was doing every bit as well as the typical private companies in terms of public satisfaction and making regular profits for the taxpayer.
It is time to resist the ideology that we have to leave everything to the private sector. We need planning, we need investment and we need subsidy. For this there we need government action and government finance. Without this rural communities will continue to be isolated and people living in northern towns will continue to be left out of a lot of opportunities. Equally without this then the private sector in the north will itself be significantly restricted in its growth.
If you want an efficient public transport system connecting us properly to a northern powerhouse then vote Green.