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W15 driving better local bus services - david brown

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W15 driving better local bus services - david brown

  1. 2.   You wait ages for reform, then three come along at once – driving better local bus services Presentation to L G Group Annual Conference - ‘Localism Works’ David Brown, SYPTE Lead DG for pteg on bus issues 29 June 2011
  2. 3.   Choppy waters ahead <ul><li>Concessionary Travel cost is going up but DfT funding going down </li></ul><ul><li>BSOG cut on the horizon in 2012 </li></ul><ul><li>Tendered services are a major area of non-statutory local government transport spend and thus vulnerable </li></ul><ul><li>Rising industry costs, eg labour and fuel </li></ul><ul><li>Main funding block for local government capital improvements for bus infrastructure (the ITB) halved in a year </li></ul>
  3. 4.   Policy Challenges <ul><li>Government policies offer choice = greater desire/need to travel </li></ul><ul><li>Growth in economic activity is not always complimentary to carbon reduction </li></ul><ul><li>Localism and sub-regional travel patterns </li></ul><ul><li>Changes to land use planning rules </li></ul>
  4. 5.   How is local government responding? <ul><li>Some Shires and Counties disposing of their supported networks – or nearly </li></ul><ul><li>Bus networks in Met Areas are more extensive and enjoy more cross party political support - so big reductions in tendered networks are a last resort we generally haven’t reached yet </li></ul><ul><li>Where efficiency savings don’t bridge the gap – then PTEs are turning to changes to CT fares and charging for services where they can </li></ul><ul><li>But this is year one – and year two gets tougher and budgets less able to cope with unforeseen shocks (eg higher levels of commercial de-registrations) </li></ul><ul><li>Are we moving to three Englands for buses – London, the Mets and cities, the rest? </li></ul>
  5. 6.   Lifting our eyes to the horizon <ul><li>Getting through the next few years will be tough but… </li></ul><ul><li>Funding levels do begin to pick up again in a few years’ time </li></ul><ul><li>The essential advantages of the bus as a key tool of urban transport policy remain </li></ul><ul><li>The planning for a smartcard revolution is picking up speed – transformatory potential in a few years’ time </li></ul><ul><li>Buses getting more politically resonant – as the recent BSOG and Save our Buses campaign shows </li></ul><ul><li>Buses recognised as essential to social mobility and addressing worklessness </li></ul>
  6. 7.   LTA 2008 bus powers <ul><li>LTA 2008 was a big breakthrough by making VPAs, SQPs and QCs more effective tools </li></ul><ul><li>We have been making good use of these tools – in partnership with operators wherever we can </li></ul><ul><li>In any review of bus policy following on from the Competition Commission investigation we want to see these powers retained and strengthened </li></ul><ul><li>Reducing or removing any of these powers will take the bus sector backwards </li></ul>
  7. 8.   Making more of less funding <ul><li>Financial support for the industry is falling so we need to do more for less </li></ul><ul><li>Better targeting of that funding is key </li></ul><ul><li>In the Met areas we think we can work with operators to make sure the funding is targeted on local priorities </li></ul><ul><li>We need to collectively look at total resources – Commercial, Tenders, CT, BSOG </li></ul><ul><li>Devolved BSOG could be targeted on bus priority (to reducing operating costs and increase patronage), on supporting smart ticketing, travel planning or on vehicle standards </li></ul><ul><li>Window of opportunity for operators / PTEs on BSOG reform – before something is done to us </li></ul>
  8. 9.   Competition Commission Investigation <ul><li>Provisional Findings: </li></ul><ul><li>Some features of local bus markets which “prevent, restrict or distort competition” </li></ul><ul><li>These features are present in a large proportion of local markets </li></ul><ul><li>They have ‘an adverse effect on competition’ (AEC) </li></ul><ul><li>CC estimate detriment to consumers and tax-payers in excess of £70m per annum </li></ul>
  9. 10.   Competition Commission Investigation <ul><li>Potential Remedies: </li></ul><ul><li>Market opening measures: </li></ul><ul><li>- Ticketing </li></ul><ul><li>- Regulation of operator behaviour - Service frequency </li></ul><ul><li>- Fares changes </li></ul><ul><li>- Access to bus stations </li></ul><ul><li>LTA–led initiatives </li></ul><ul><li>- Franchise approach – QCs </li></ul><ul><li>- Partnership approach </li></ul><ul><li>Tendered services </li></ul><ul><li>Other remedies - Ruled out divestment and direct control of outcomes </li></ul>
  10. 11.   Conclusions <ul><li>The key advantages of the bus in urban transport policy are as strong as ever </li></ul><ul><li>We need to ensure that bus policy is quick to take advantage of new and wider policies on smart travel, sustainability and economic growth </li></ul><ul><li>But we can’t wish away the fact that the story of the bus in urban areas in recent decades has been one mainly of decline – and the funding climate is not encouraging </li></ul><ul><li>Empty platitudes about partnership won’t change that - practical application will </li></ul><ul><li>Instead we need to redouble our efforts using the tools in the LTA 08 – as appropriate </li></ul>
  11. 12.   Conclusions <ul><li>That means: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Crunchy” Partnerships based on an evidence base and real measurable and delivered commitments </li></ul><ul><li>SQPs that deliver better services using more bus priority </li></ul><ul><li>The QC option retained in legislation and tried out on the ground  Government to reduce transition risk? </li></ul><ul><li>Devolution of BSOG </li></ul><ul><li>It also means making the best use of the available funding (through better targeting) </li></ul><ul><li>A more cohesive and effective structure for understanding, monitoring and where necessary enforcing performance improvements </li></ul>

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