My views may differ from your correspondent Paul Kirby (Your Views, January 7).
But, on the basis of regular feedback I receive, I think I do represent the views of an awful lot of West Yorkshire bus passengers when I criticise bus operator First’s decision to raise its fares at a time when oil prices reach a record low.
Particularly because this price rise is precisely how First assured City investors last summer it would increase profitability and, in turn, share prices.
Bus companies determine what services they wish to operate, including services run during holiday periods, weekends at night and in rural areas.
Commercial concerns mean bus companies often have no interest in such services, meaning the West Yorkshire Combined Authority spends almost £20m each year funding vital journeys that otherwise would not run, leaving people and whole communities cut off from work, family friends and essential amenities and services.
Companies have to make a profit and I accept prices need to rise.
However I do not think it is unreasonable to call for a commitment from a firm whose operating profit margin is higher than that recommended by an independent consultancy that also advises First West Yorkshire, to pass on the benefits of a drop in fuel costs to its customers rather than its shareholders.
I am pleased that Mr Kirby is so satisfied with the bus services he uses.
I too have praised bus operators where they have introduced the comfortable modern vehicles and high standards of service he describes.
Unfortunately though for every satisfied Mr Kirby, feedback I receive demonstrates that there are still too many dissatisfied people being let down by late and unreliable journeys on uncomfortable vehicles, with sub-standard levels of customer care and now being asked to pay more for this unsatisfactory experience.
It is for this reason we, and many others including the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the leader of the Labour Party, see the need for a framework in which local bus services better support local economies and are more accountable to the fare payer, and to the taxpayer who funds a substantial proportion of bus companies’ income.
Councillor James Lewis, Chair, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee
The faithful are not all fanatics
JACK Banner (Your Views, December 19) makes the usual unproven assertion that “religion has killed more people than it has saved”.
As a Christian in the Catholic tradition, I, along with my co-religionists, am fully aware of the sins of the past.
But the Catholic Church in particular ceased burning heretics, torture by Inquisition and raising holy war against the infidel long ago, and still remains a powerful force for the common good worldwide.
With, more than 1.5 billion adherents worldwide, the church has the second largest international development agency after the UN, and also the second largest humanitarian agency after the Red Cross.
There are over 160 Catholic charities worldwide, with a combined budget of £5bn.
In Africa, for instance, the Catholic Church runs a quarter of all hospitals, care homes etc. Not bad for a communion that always gets a bad press media-wise.
The Church utterly condemns religious fundamentalism in all its terrible manifestations worldwide.
To condemn all religious belief as fanatical is a gross distortion of the facts, and an injustice to the billions of faith who live in peace and tolerance for the greater common good.
Brian Johnston, Burmantofts
Bicycle bays are a wheel puzzle
Strolling through the centre of Leeds the other day, I saw handsome banners for Leeds Cycle City. That’s nice, I thought.
I stopped for a coffee in The Light, also nice, walked out the back way towards the Catholic Cathedral, nice too, and to the left and right what did I see?
Circular parking bays for bikes, set back against the wall on either side, so that only 180 degrees of the 360 could be used.
One line, set down the centre of that pedestrian area, would have done the same job, at no inconvenience to pedestrians and at half the price to the city.
And this is the council which asks us to believe it can manage a multi-million pound trolley-bus scheme. It couldn’t manage a mouse-trap in the absence of mice.
Tony Green, Headingley
Let us decide how NHS is run
The present problems affecting the NHS have been created by this Government and are down to a lack of funding as well as a lack of knowledge regarding the country’s healthcare needs.
The situation regarding patient care is inconsistent, especially in accident and emergency wards.
I would like to see more doctors and nurses employed in-house rather than using agencies and bank nurses as this is a very expensive substitute.
All non-medical staff should be trained in basic first aid to help out in emergencies and there should be fewer senior executives who are on high salaries.
There is a need for more ambulance staff and paramedics, with a three-shift pattern introduced.
National Insurance contributors should be able to have a say on where our money goes within the NHS services.
Policies should be left out of politicians’ hands. They should not have no say regarding our NHS.
Labour MP Nye Bevan created the NHS in 1947/8 and he would be furious with the present situation.
J Carder, Bridlington
Got an hour? Give some blood
This January, we have an urgent appeal for donors to come forward and help us maintain healthy blood stocks.
All blood types are needed, but particularly O Groups to maintain our life saving supplies.
With heavy demand for blood and many people taking extended holidays over this Christmas and New Year period we have seen falling stock levels. Every day hospitals in England and North Wales need around 6,100 blood donations to treat patients in urgent need.
We hold sessions at a number of venues in the Yorkshire region.
If you are able to give blood, please make an appointment to donate by calling 0300 123 23 23.
Alternatively visit www.blood.co.uk to find a session and to book an appointment near you.
It is also easy to book through mobile apps for Windows, Android and Apple devices.
To download the app, search ‘NHSGiveBlood’ in the app store.
By giving up one hour of your time to give blood this New Year, you could save up to three lives.
Katie Burgon, NHS Blood and Transplant
Don’t blame the pensioners
So, after seeing a local councillor and a Health Department minister telling TV interviewers that the A&E winter crisis is due to the ‘over 65 demographic’, it’s good to know it’s not the fault of open door immigration, instigated by Labour and continued by Dave and his Tory chums.
Graham Waite, Leeds