Local transport authorities will be given an extra 14-day pre-notification period when operators are registering for new or varied local bus services, under plans being taken forward by the Department for Transport.
During the extra time local transport authorities may review and discuss a registration application with the operator.
The move follows a recommendation from the Competition Commission – now the Competition and Markets Authority – in its 2011 report into the local bus market.
The CC made a range of recommendation after it estimated ‘the annual detriment to consumers and taxpayers caused by the lack of competition [in the market] is in the range of £115m to £305m’.
Announcing the plans this month, transport minister John Hayes said: ‘New entrants [to the market] would have at least 14 days to operate before a reaction from the incumbent(s) as the information would be kept confidential.’
The move represents a watering down of the DfT’s initial reaction to the CC, as its response in March 2012, made a commitment to develop secondary regulations to bring about three more changes to the bus service registration system.
Among the other recommended changes was a call for a minimum standard notice period of 90 days, as opposed to the current 56.
The CPT – the trade association representing the UK’s bus and coach industry – said ‘common sense had prevailed’.
The DfT will also be taking forward plans to move to a fully electronic bus registration system over the next two to three years.
David Sidebottom, director of passenger watchdog, Passenger Focus, welcomed the 14-day pre-notification period and said passengers ‘should benefit from a move to a fully electronic bus registration system as it could mean that information such as bus timetables and route maps becomes more readily available’.