pteg responds positively to Local Transport Bill consultation

Thursday, September 13, 2007

pteg’s response to the Government's consultation on the Local Transport Bill is now available. Follow this link to the pteg response.

Chair of pteg, Roy Wicks, said:

'This Bill offers the prospect of more fully empowered transport authorities for the city regions. Transport authorities which will be better equipped to bring about the high quality, and fully integrated transport networks, essential to the continuing sustainable and equitable development of the city regions.’

‘pteg strongly supports both the Bill's objectives and much of the detail of the proposals. Our main concern now is to ensure that the bus section of the Bill is as workable as possible, in enabling a transition to much more effective forms of partnership between the public and private sector. Our response sets out a number of ways we believe the provisions of the draft Bill could be strengthened to achieve this.' 

Summary of pteg response

Governance

The enhancements to existing Passenger Transport Authority (PTA) powers are strongly supported (ie wellbeing powers, climate change duty and Integrated Transport Strategies). Beyond that, pteg believes the governance proposals strike the right balance between strengthening the remit and the role of PTAs in planning and delivering the strategic priorities for their city region - whilst allowing each city region some freedom to manoeuvre on how best this might be achieved (in light of local circumstance and local aspirations).

Bus Reform

The bus section of the Bill should give Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs), and local authorities elsewhere in the country, a far more effective ‘toolbox’ of powers with which to improve bus services. These powers are urgently required as the bus is the main form of public transport in PTE areas (about 85 per cent of all trips). Unlike rail and light rail travel, bus travel has been in decline in the Metropolitan areas.  

pteg's main concern with the Bill is in ensuring the bus provisions are as workable as possible. There are complex challenges involved in moving from the current deregulated market to more comprehensive partnership arrangements, or to area franchising. The major challenge on partnership lies in balancing the benefits of integration with those of competition (and by extension the role of the competition authorities). The major challenges on franchising are to find a process which is fair but proportionate, and to have effective arrangements in place for the transition from deregulation to an area-wide franchise.

In both these areas pteg suggests changes to the draft Bill which we think would be more effective in achieving the Government’s overall objectives.

These include:

  • local determination of Quality Contract (QC) schemes or, if the Government wishes to retain an element of external scrutiny, a ratification rather than an adjudication role for the Traffic Commissioners
  • more robust arrangements to safeguard the interests of passengers and staff during a transition to a QC
  • further clarification of competition law in regard to bus provision - with a shift towards bespoke and proportionate competition tests which recognise the unique nature of the bus market, and the benefits to passengers of cooperation and fully integrated bus networks
  • additional powers for the Traffic Commissioners to make comprehensive voluntary partnership schemes more viable and sustainable by protecting such schemes from disruptive and unsustainable competition which is not in the interests of passengers.

Road User Charging

pteg supports the involvement of PTEs in developing and delivering local road pricing schemes, where this is the best way to achieve local policies, and believes local determination of schemes developed on the basis of national standards is the right way forward.  

ENDS