RIVAL candidates battling to become Worcester's next MP have laid out their visions for the future of the city's bus services.

Labour's candidate to become the city's next MP, Tom Collins and Marc Bayliss, the Conservative candidate, have different ideas about how the city's bus services could and should look in future.

Tom Collins criticised 'cuts' as the shadow transport secretary, Louise Haigh MP, set out the party’s plans for a better bus network across England on Thursday.

However, Mr Collins' rival for the post, Marc Bayliss, said there had been investment, new services and a bus fare cap despite dropping demand since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Collins said: “Over the past 14 years we have seen our bus services in Worcester cut again and again.

"Buses should be a great way to get around a city like ours. Yet for many of us, we simply can’t depend on our local bus services to get where we need to go.

“Conservative governments cut our buses then made it impossible to get them back. Labour will open the door for places like Worcester to get the practical bus services we need and want."

However, Conservative candidate Marc Bayliss said only three bus routes in the county were financially viable and all the others had been subsidised by the Conservative-led Worcestershire County Council which had spent £7 million to keep them going.

Mr Bayliss said the Conservatives had also introduced a £2 bus fare cap in 2024 as a cost of living measure, arguing the Party had 'clearly listened'.

He also stressed the Conservative-led county council's 'enhanced partnership with the bus companies' with £209 million provided by the Government for the Transport Improvement Fund.

Mr Bayliss said he was campaigning for better weekend and evening bus services.

"I don't think they're good enough," he said.

The Conservatives had also also invested a further £2.8 million in improving bus service.

Demand for buses has fallen by 30 per cent (from pre-pandemic levels) and for pensioners demand had fallen even further (by 50 per cent) with Mr Bayliss describing it as 'a difficult market'.

"I will continue working hard to make sure our bus network is amongst the best in the country," said Mr Bayliss.

Labour says their plan could create and save up to 1,300 vital bus routes and allow 250 million more passenger journeys per year 'compared to today’s failed system'.

Speaking at a launch event in the West Midlands with Labour’s Mayoral candidate, Richard Parker, Louise Haigh said, during its first term, a Labour Government will pass new legislation to support local transport authorities to take back control of their bus services and has set out a five-point plan.

Steps include giving local leaders more control and flexibility over bus funding and allowing them to plan ahead to deliver their local transport priorities as well as allowing communities to take back control of their buses by removing barriers that currently limit bus franchising powers only to metro mayors.