Labour’s North East Mayoral candidate Kim McGuinness has set out plans for an Angel Network of publicly-controlled buses across the North East.

Launching the plans on Thursday, Ms McGuinness said she was committed to taking back control of the bus network in order to give passengers a bigger say over fares, routes and timetables.

The mayoral candidate was joined by Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh and Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon, chair of the Joint Transport Committee, to set out an ambitious timetable for cheaper buses.The Northern Echo:

Ms McGuinness promise to take buses under public control was backed by Ms Haigh, who promised that a Labour Government would support her.

Ms Haigh pledged that a Labour Government would break down barriers to public control of buses and would provide the support to shave years off the bus franchising process compared to the uphill struggle faced by Greater Manchester.

McGuinness was speaking as she unveiled her wider transport manifesto, in which she promised to: · Create a "joined-up transport network" in which one pass works for bus, rail and Metro.

  •  More ticket gates and staff at Metro stations.
  •  Order a review of all rural transport to identify urgent areas of action.
  • Introduce free travel for children and subsidised fares for those seeking work.
  • Replace all diesel buses with electric buses as part of plans for the UK’s greenest transport network.
  • Secure funding to expand the Metro, with at least three more stations on the Washington Metro loop.
  • Work to ensure the reopening of the Leamside Line railway in Durham.
  • Ensure delayed stations on the new Northumberland Line are finally opened.
  • Negotiate a new devolution deal to include public control of major train stations.
  • Create an extensive network of electric vehicle charging points to improve uptake of EVs regionwide.
  • Carry out a regionwide accessibility audit and set clear targets to improve travel for elderly and disabled passengers.

Ms McGuinness said: “The North East needs a publicly-controlled bus network that puts passengers before profit.

"As mayoral I’ll start this process on day one. In my first term we’ll see buses rebranded as part of an Angel Network, bringing public control of fares, routes and timetables – and we’ll do it faster than anywhere else.

“This is part of a wider plan to have greenest transport network in the country. From Electric vehicle charging infrastructure to climate-friendly buses, we will lead the way in the North East.”

Ms Haigh said: “After 14 years of neglect, the state of transport across the North East is driving communities apart and holding them back from opportunities.The Northern Echo:

“The North East needs public transport that works for the people that rely on it. Only Labour’s Kim McGuinness can deliver that change.

“A Labour Government will support Kim to deliver a new Angel network for the North East, breaking down the barriers to public control and providing support to speed up the bus franchising process.”

Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon, chair of the region’s Joint Transport Committee, said the North East had ambitious plans to grow the transport network.

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Martin Gannon said: “The Interim North East Combined Authority has ambitious plans to invest on our transport infrastructure, but we know there is more to do. The Leamside Line and Metro expansion are key to the future of public transport in our region.

“Council leaders in the North East have been working together for many years to develop and deliver our Transport Plan, a vision for a comprehensive, green and integrated transport system that will power growth in our economy and allow everyone to access opportunity.

“I know we can build on this with Kim as our Labour Mayor.”