Call for bus franchising powers for councils


Local authorities need more powers, including to introduce franchising, to end a 'spiral of decline' in bus service delivery, a new report has argued.

The Local Government Association (LGA) and the Urban Transport Group (UTG) have called for legislation allowing all areas in England to have the same rights to introduce bus franchising as mayoral combined authorities.

Their report recommends simplifying the franchising process and lifting the ban in the Bus Services Act 2017 on councils setting up bus companies.

The Act gave authorities the ability to set up ‘enhanced partnership’ bus service agreements with operators and gave automatic franchising powers only to mayoral combined authorities.

This weekend, Greater Manchester will become the first city region outside London to run franchised bus services (pictured above).

UTG director Jason Prince said that while the Bus Services Act was ‘a pioneering piece of legislation’ at the time, Greater Manchester’s experience has shown the process to be ‘unduly long and onerous’.

Mr Prince added: ‘If we really want to fulfil the ambitions of the National Bus Strategy – to truly transform bus services, it’s time to update the legislation, and this report provides recommendations for how to do so’.

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