Latest CC report casts shadow over quality partnerships as well as franchising, claims pteg

Monday, October 31, 2011
Bus outside Liverpool South Parkway interchange

Ticketing recommendations welcomed…but CC’s overall package is ‘faith based’ not ‘evidence based’

In its response (published today) to the Competition Commission’s interim remedies, pteg says that the CC is threatening to ‘turn the clock back by raising the same vague but threatening doubts over the value of any scheme that excludes the theoretical possibility of low end competition.’ An approach that inhibited partnership working prior to the Local Transport Act 2008.

pteg also argues that the CC has systematically over-estimated the costs and risks associated with franchising and that there is no evidence for claiming that its package of measures would be more effective than franchising.

In its response to the CC’s interim remedies the group of the six largest transport authorities outside London also:

  • Welcome the CC’s conclusion that the failure of the bus market is now costing passengers as much as £150 million a year, but argues that figure still fails to take into account the wider costs to society – such as the resulting traffic congestion
  • Welcome the ticketing measures in the report but says that the costs and timescales for implementation have been under-estimated
  • Argue that the CC has not provided the evidence to justify its claims that its package of measures will provide a solution to the £150 million problem it has identified and that many of the measures it proposes will have a modest or negligible effect on encouraging the on-street competition the CC seeks

David Brown leads on bus issues for pteg:

‘In this iteration of the competition authorities thinking they seem to have reverted to a set of recommendations that are all about promoting on-street competition. However the evidence from their own investigation, as well as the findings of their previous reports, does not uphold the argument that sustained on-street competition is either likely or beneficial. It is also highly unlikely that this loose package of measures will lead to an onset of sustained on-street competition - even if this was desirable.’

‘Through taking this approach the CC also risk undermining the measures in the Local Transport Act which are being used right now to improve services on the ground for passengers. The report is sceptical about any measures that exclude the theoretical possibility of future low end on-street competition and in doing so casts a shadow over high end voluntary partnerships, Statutory Quality Partnerships and Qualifying Agreements.’

David Brown added:

‘There are measures in this report – particularly on ticketing – which we think could bring about a better deal for passengers, and we are happy to contribute to a process of developing them. However, we believe that the central argument of this report is flawed. Promoting on-street competition should not be the main driver of bus policy and even if it was, the report makes an unconvincing case that its package of measures will deliver that outcome. Better therefore to build on, rather than blight, the progress made since the Local Transport Act 2008 on voluntary and statutory partnerships and quality contracts.’

ENDS

pteg’s response to the Competition Commission’s interim findings can be downloaded below.

pteg represents the transport authorities serving the six largest conurbations outside London with a combined population of eleven million. 37% of the bus market covered by the Competition Commission investigation is in PTE areas.

For more contact Jonathan Bray on 0781 804 1485 / 0113 251 7445