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The ‘give local authorities more power over bus services’ Act

Bill Passed

27th
Apr.

Current
Stage

What

  • To give elected mayors and local transport authorities the power to improve bus services

  • To make data about routes, fares and times available across the country to app developers

  • To give mayoral combined authorities London-style powers to franchise local services

Why

The Bill largely extends to England and Wales but applies only in England. However, one provision also extends to Scotland. The main changes in the Bill would not affect London.

The Bill has been a long time coming. In the mid-1980s the Conservative Government deregulated the bus industry across Great Britain, except in London. From almost the moment deregulation was introduced in October 1986 there have been calls to re-regulate it, particularly from the local authorities and Passenger Transport Executives in cities outside London.

These calls have been based on concerns about the decline in passenger numbers; requirements for local authorities to step in and subsidise ‘socially necessary’ services which are commercially unviable; uncertainty about services and timetables; and a lack of coordination particularly as regards fares.

The private bus industry has defended its record, arguing that since deregulation there has been massive investment and modernisation and that it has successfully navigated changes in passenger expectations based on accessibility, the environment and technology.

This Bill would give local authorities more power to work with bus providers and set required standards of service, including branding, ticketing and frequency, to ensure consistency across all bus services.

It would also provide passengers with better information about how to make the most of local bus services so they can plan their routes more effectively.

Who

Chris Grayling MP and the Department for Transport are in charge of this Bill.

Other Arguments

The main concerns that have been raised about the Bill are that the bar to implement franchising may still be too high and that the Competition and Markets Authority may be able to quash, water-down or delay franchising; that the Government does not intend to make franchising immediately available to all areas; and that local authorities would be prevented from forming new municipal bus companies.

A number of amendments were agreed in the House of Lords and overturned at Commons Committee stage; these include the removal of automatic franchising powers to all local authorities in England and the reintroduction of a ban on the formation of new municipal bus companies.

How to get involved

Speak to your MP or the Campaign for Better Transport.

If I don’t act, will it go through?

As a Government Bill, it is very likely to go through.

Additional Information