Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Liberal Democrat Victory Over Glaring Inefficiencies In Bus Contract

Glaring inefficiencies in Cambridge County Council’s Park and Ride contract are to be addressed thanks to the Liberal Democrats.

The move will save money for the taxpayer and could see the sites used more widely as rural bus interchanges potentially providing better services for travellers.

Lib Dems revealed a deal between the council’s Tory administration and bus operator Stagecoach that cut departure charges for Park and Ride buses by 25 per cent for the duration of the contract in return for a freeze on ticket prices.

But after the first year, Stagecoach continued to increase ticket prices above inflation while the departure charge – commission the operators pay to the county council to use the Park and Rid sites – remained frozen at the reduced rate.

Papers released for the Tory-run Cabinet meeting revealed, however, that departure charges have been increased by 25 per cent and further significant rises are planned.

The Lib Dems have welcomed the move but warned that the Tories must now make sure that the operators do not pass the increase on to passengers.

Kilian Bourke said: "The Lib Dems exposed the glaring inefficiency of this contract over a year ago and it is good news that the Conservatives are finally doing something about this.

"They have unequivocally accepted our argument that the levy on the commercial operator should be dramatically increased, and already implemented a 25 per cent hike, although the proposals don't go far enough.  Whatever the outcome, the council needs to make sure any increase is not simply passed on to bus passengers through ticket prices."

Lib Dem Shadow Cabinet Member for Transport, Susan van de Ven said: "The open access model is the right choice and we have long argued for it. It is the most risk-free option and could potentially introduce some competition into this local monopoly.  The Tories have also taken on board our idea of using the sites as rural transport hubs, which is welcome news."