Article in today's Guardian:
I also recognise that this also applies to some other English regions, but it justifies the comments, complaints even, that some of us have been making on various threads over the years (and which some metropolitan types seem to find unreasonable, tedious or not worth bothering about.)It was a grumpy bus journey to Stockport that prompted the Guardian’s recent London Versus series. Peeved at having to pay £3.50 to go a few short miles into town, I tweeted a picture of my ticket and pointed out that the same journey would have cost £1.50 in London.
Thousands of people responded with their own bus woes: hotel workers on minimum wage in the Lake District, where a single from Ambleside to Grasmere is £5.65; a carer from County Durham, where fares seem inversely proportionate to local earnings; someone in Oldham whose route was served by one bus company until teatime and another later on, necessitating the purchase of an extra-expensive “all services” day ticket if he returned after dark.
When I moved up to Manchester from London in 2013 to become the Guardian’s North of England editor, it soon became clear that public transport was the great divider between the capital and everywhere else.
I’d been spoilt in London
By the time I left, London Overground had been revamped, the £17.6bn Crossrail was under way and Boris Johnson had spent hundreds of millions on a new fleet of Routemaster buses. Coming back to my native north after 14 years away, transport had gone in reverse. It seemed the logical starting point for a series which aimed to explore how much the rest of England has been left behind as London has pulled away.
The debate about regional imbalance is often framed as north v south. But for me it is London which – certainly in respect of transport, culture and political representation – gets a plum deal at the expense of the rest of England. Pick any seaside town on the south coast and it will have the same issues of deprivation and poverty as Morecambe Bay, where I grew up in England’s north-west.