§ 5. Mr. David Atkinson
asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will estimate the percentage increase in passengers that has taken place since the deregulation of the long-distance coach industry.
§ Mr. David Mitchell
Comprehensive statistics are not available, but the number of passengers carried on NBC's National Express services, which has about 70 per cent. of the market, increased by 45 per cent. between 1980 and 1983. As independent operators undertook very little long-distance coaching before deregulation, they must have increased their carryings by an even greater figure.
§ Mr. Atkinson
Is it not a fact that deregulation has produced cheaper fares, better services, more passengers and more jobs for the British long-distance coach industry? Is that not evidence enough to suppose that the same will happen to the British bus industry, given the safeguards and standards contained in the Transport Bill?
§ Mr. Mitchell
My hon. Friend is perfectly correct in his catalogue of the benefits that have come from deregulation of long-distance coaches. Similar benefits came from deregulation of long-distance internal air services. The principle seems to hold good.
§ Mr. Dobson
What has been the parallel reduction in NBC services over and above the 42 million passenger miles by which they were reduced in the first year after the deregulation of long-distance coaches came into operation?
§ Mr. Mitchell
What we have seen has been a change in the pattern. The overall effect has been to satisfy more people because more people are using the services than before to a very substantial extent—rather more than 40 per cent.