Who does what on transport

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Our Members are the driving force behind the development of public transport in the city regions.

​Governance of transport in the UK is complex and in some areas (in particular the English city regions) is changing fast.

The majority of our full members are Passenger Transport Executives who are responsible to Combined Authorities.

PTEs were created by the 1968 Transport Act to co-ordinate transport provision in most of Britain's largest conurbations (the Metropolitan Areas).

They are funded by a combination of local council tax and grants from national government.

Their main roles have been to:

  • contribute to the planning of local rail services (in partnership with the DfT);
  • plan and fund socially necessary bus routes;
  • work in partnership with private operators to improve bus services - for example through bus priority schemes;
  • run concessionary travel schemes - including those for older, disabled and young people;
  • invest in local public transport networks - including new rail and bus stations;
  • develop and promote new public transport schemes - like light rail and guided bus networks;
  • provide impartial and comprehensive public transport information services - including by phone and internet;
  • manage and maintain bus interchanges, bus stops and shelters.

In some cases, PTEs are the operators of public transport, such as some ferry services. However, the vast majority of public transport in PTE areas is operated by private companies.  PTEs are also not the highways authority - this remains with District Councils.

​With the creation of Combined Authorities in the Metropolitan Areas the PTEs are now responsible to those Combined Authorities.  In the case of West Yorkshire the PTE has been abolished as a legal entity and absorbed within the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.  The same has happened in the West Midlands.  There have also been changes in roles in some areas with Transport for Greater Manchester taking on additional responsibilities (for example some highways responsibilities) whereas in other areas the strategic transport planning function has been taken out of the PTE and placed within the Combined Authority alongside other strategic planning functions.

Further governance change is likely with different approaches being taken in different areas.  However overall the shift is towards more focused city region governance (with Mayoral Combined Authorities the next step in many areas) with more powers over transport devolved from central Government in order to deliver more coordinated and integrated transport strategy and delivery.

You can find out more about how UK transport governance works in our briefing, 'UK Transport Governance - an introduction'.

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