Queen's Speech: Bus franchising and driverless cars


The much-anticipated Buses Bill will hand franchising powers to areas with directly elected mayors, while others will be able to apply for them. Legislation will also be introduced to facilitate autonomous and electric vehicles.

Her Majesty travelled by coach to Parliament

The Queen’s Speech on Wednesday included plans for a Bus Services Bill and a Modern Transport Bill, as well as measures to improve infrastructure and the digital economy.

In his introduction to the document setting out details of forthcoming Government legislation, prime minister David Cameron said: ‘To back business, we will make sure Britain has first-class infrastructure, especially when it comes to the transport of the future.’

On buses, the Government has confirmed expectations that ‘London-style powers to franchise local services’ will only be given to mayoral combined authorities, although other councils could apply for them on case-by-case basis.

Ministers said a separate Modern Transport Bill ‘will put Britain at the forefront of the modern transport revolution, so that we create new jobs and fuel economic growth around the country’.

It will include legislation to enable the future development of the UK’s first commercial spaceports, new laws to make the UK ready to pioneer driverless cars, and new rules to bring safe commercial and personal drone flight for households and businesses a step closer.

In the speech, the Queen said ministers ‘will ensure the United Kingdom is at the forefront of technology for new forms of transport, including autonomous and electric vehicles’.

However, guidance has made clear that autonomous and driverless vehicles measures will apply to Great Britain only and not Northern Ireland.

A Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill will aim to reform and speed up the planning process and put the National Infrastructure Commission on a statutory footing.

A Digital Economy Bill will honour Mr Cameron’s pledge to make high speed broadband a universal service obligation and help telecoms providers build the infrastructure needed for faster broadband and better mobile networks

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