Recent government investment in bus services, through the Better Bus Areas scheme and smart ticketing initiatives for example, matched with the longer-term commitment to the so-called Bus Service Operator Grant prompted thoughts about longer-term planning for bus passenger needs.

The potential creation of a government company to run the strategic road network in place of the Highways Agency, alongside a five-year funding plan also shows fresh thinking is coming into road travel.

At present there is an odd patchwork quilt of regulation for bus services.

The Traffic Commissioners, among other duties, have a role in licensing services and enforcing punctuality. The Vehicle and Operators Services Agency (VOSA) provides limited monitoring of timekeeping alongside safety duties. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and ultimately the Competition Commission strive to ensure competition works for passengers. The Department for Transport (DfT) retains key roles in funding and policy.

Maybe it is time to look at streamlining these structures?

Could some form of bus regulator replace this mix? In return for a five-year funding settlement for buses could a new regulator, somewhat like the rail regulator, ensure the industry delivers what passengers and government want?

Could it enforce statutory bus partnerships and bring a focus to local authority duties around punctuality and traffic enforcement?  None of this would run across the idea of a de-regulated industry but would put it into a more coherent framework that might benefit passengers.

One comment

  1. Ray Wilkes says:

    I think most bus companies now understand that punctuality and reliability are vital for passenger and revenue growth.
    The 5 minute rule is a crude and inappropriate rule when our roads are so congested as to be not fit for purpose. The 5 minute rule does not help passengers, bus priority would
    Bus companies should have to satisfy TCs that the route is properly resourced and then be left alone

    The OFT and CC hurt passengers by putting up bus company costs.

    One regulator for the bus industry might well be a good thing, providing they understood buses have been deregulated to allow them to respond to passengers so that good companies thrive and bad companies go bust.

    Safety and proper capitalisation of bus companies is a vital area for oversight

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>