Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Liberal Democrats Call For Profitable Bus Routes To Contribute To Cost Of Rural Ones

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats are calling for the County Council to look at introducing a new bus contracting system that use some of the profits from the most successful bus services to contribute to the cost of less viable, predominantly rural bus services.

In a motion to full council on December 7 (see below) they call for the Conservatives to investigate "Quality Bus Contract schemes", which would replace the current setup with a franchising arrangement under which the council would draw up contracts for bus services and then invite operators to bid for them.

This would give the council greater democratic influence over local buses, allow social imperatives to be balanced with commercial ones, and enable the council to introduce real competition to the marketplace for the first time.

The council would be able to specify bus routes, stops and frequencies, and could also insist on cross-company ticketing and better connections with rail services.

Lib Dem group leader, Kilian Bourke said: "Introducing a Quality Bus Contract scheme would help restore rural bus services to villages that need them."

"Switching to a franchising model would allow the council to determine when the buses run."

"This would mean taking some of the profits companies make from passengers on some routes and using them to fund buses that are close to breaking even or other forms of rural transport."

"The Lib Dems would use Quality Contracts to insist that bus services joined up properly with railway stations. We could introduce proper cross-company ticketing so that passengers would be able to use any companies' buses on the same ticket at a reasonable price. And we would make sure that more villages got a decent public transport service."

"The Conservatives acted on our proposal to introduce competition for the Park and Ride service; now we want them to investigate using a similar approach more widely."


"This Council notes: 

The recent Conservative decision, currently under review, to cut 100% of funding for subsidised bus services; 

The local bus operator's subsequent decision to make reductions to commercial services and not to renew the Quality Bus Partnership; 

The negative impact these cuts have already had on the quality of bus transport available to local people, and concern about the implications of further cuts; 

The lack of significant competition in the bus industry in Cambridgeshire; 

The frequent lack of connections between bus and rail services. 

This Council also notes that "Quality Bus Contract schemes" (Local Transport Act 2000, 2008) would allow the Council to: 

Draw up contracts for the provision of bus services and then invite commercial operators to bid to provide that service, using a franchising arrangement to introduce competition for the marketplace; 

Specify the terms of bus services, including routes, stops, frequency and ticket prices, increasing democratic influence and allowing social as well as commercial imperatives to be taken into account; 

Ensure better connections between bus and rail; 

Take commission on ticket sales from the profitable services, generating revenue that could be reinvested to improve public transport for those people who have poor services through (e.g.) community transport, bus priority measures and rural buses. 

This Council calls on Cabinet to investigate ways to use Quality Bus Contract Schemes as a means to provide improved public transport for Cambridgeshire people. "