LAST week in Parliament, I took part in a debate about the growing cost of public transport.
Transport is an issue that can often be overlooked, but I am constantly meeting constituents who tell me they are finding it more and more expensive to get to where they need to go.
As part of the devolution deal, Greater Manchester will take full responsibility for local transport services. This is a great opportunity and if it is done right it will drive economic growth both in Rochdale and elsewhere.
But if that is to happen, there are many areas that need improvement.
Firstly, we need a pricing system that is both affordable and fair for all, regardless of where they live within Greater Manchester.
During the debate, I raised the important issue of the rising price of rail tickets and the artificially high train fares for passengers in Rochdale.
The cost of rail travel has already gone up 25% since 2010. On top of that, Rochdale residents are paying 20% more for peak time journeys than equivalent journeys from Bolton.
This rail rip-off is a serious concern for the many commuters in our town who make the daily journey to central Manchester.
Secondly, we need to take better care of our buses. Rural bus routes are usually the first to go when Government cuts hit, but they are a vital lifeline to the elderly and those living in isolated communities. Public transport policy is not about making profit and we have a responsibility to provide these services to those who need it.
Finally, we need to recognise that the City of Manchester is not the be all and end all of the devolution deal. We also need better links between the satellite towns.
I’m proud to support Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon’s proposals for two Metrolink extensions which would connect Rochdale to its neighbouring towns without passengers having to travel through Manchester first.
If Rochdale could have a fraction of the per head spend on public transport that we see in London, we could achieve all this and much more.