OLDHAM West and Royton MP Jim McMahon has joined calls for action on polluting buses as part of the new Greater Manchester-wide Clean Air Zone.

Campaingers point out that around 1,200 people in Greater Manchester die early each year because of CO2 emission related problems such as cancer, asthma, strokes and heart disease and in the UK.

The new plans would introduce penalties for those vehicles and companies which refuse to comply with the new regulations, however everyday use cars will be exempt from the penalties.

Stagecoach originally commented on the proposed changes calling them a “stealth tax on bus passengers and does little to address the real issue”.

Mr McMahon responded stating that “Greater Manchester has lost nearly 32 million bus journeys a year since 2010”.

He went on: “Taxpayers pay many millions to operators, while fares have shot up by 55 per cent above inflation in the same period. At the same time, hundreds of millions of pounds have been paid to shareholders. Somehow with fewer journeys taking place, we are all being taken for a ride.”

Mr McMahon added: “This is a disappointing reaction and it says something that I am not shocked that big bus operators behave like this. Air pollution is killing people. Knocking a bit off the millions in shareholder pay-outs over the last ten years would have bought a lot more cleaner buses. This doesn’t bode well for future franchising dialogue.”

This news is following on from Jim McMahon MP’s recent letter to Greater Manchester metro Andy Burnham calling for re-regulation of the local bus services due to poor customer service, rising prices, poor performance and decades old fleets still being used on our streets today.

In his letter Mr McMahon called on Mr Burnham to look at alternative options such as a model like that employed to operate the Metrolink stating that “securing the fleet, depots and loyal workforce provides a once in a generation opportunity to repair the damage privatisation has caused to public transport in the region”.

Following the reaction to the regulations, Mr McMahon tabled an adjournment debate to debate the failing bus services in Greater Manchester and to look at options on how to solve the issues with bus services.

During the debate, the MP outlined that there needs to be an alternative Greater Manchester.

Mr McMahon highlighted how important bus routes and services are for his constituents and that for many, while the national gaze is firmly fixated on Brexit, bus services remain a very important issue.

Bus journeys in Oldham are becoming increasingly frustrating for passengers due to higher prices, longer waiting times, fewer journeys and a lack of care surrounding customer interests, he said.

Increasing frustrations among passengers has meant that support for re-regulation is growing among Oldhamers with around 76 per cent of people in the region now in favour of regulating the buses.

This, added to the recent news that First Bus has sold its depot on Queens Road, means the pressure seems to be increasing on local bus companies to sell up or put up, with Mr McMahon is calling for reform sooner rather than later.