Bus services could be rescued from budget cuts by re-regulating Britain’s network to stamp out ‘excess profits’, a report has argued.
Building a World-Class Bus System for Britain from TfQL (Transport for Quality of Life) Community Interest Company - argues that running buses under a European ‘not-for-dividend municipal ownership’ model would generate even greater savings, allowing bus services to expand.
London enjoys a regulated bus network
It says that deregulation that gives bus operators freedom to decide where to run their services and how much to charge for them comes at a heavy financial cost and makes it impossible to achieve many of the functions essential to a good bus network.
The report argues that extensive regulatory and financial reforms, primarily re-regulation, to the governance of Britain’s bus services are needed to put them on a sustainable financial footing.
John Stewart, chair of TfQL Community Interest Company, told Transport Network: 'This report makes a powerful case for bus services to be brought under municipal control. Deregulation of bus services has been a failure.'
The TfQL analysis compares the doubling since the mid eighties of bus journeys in London, where services remain regulated, with the fall in bus use elsewhere in the country and argues that this cannot entirely be explained by recent more generous funding for buses in the capital.
It argues that achieving a world-class bus system for the whole country can only be achieved by a shift to franchising, or to municipal bus companies.
A DfT spokesperson said: ‘We are making sure all parts of the transport network receive the investment needed to support a growing economy and population. That is why the Government ensured that financial support for bus services provided through the Bus Service Operators Grant – around £250m a year - was protected as part of the 2015 spending review.
'This will preserve millions of bus passenger journeys in England every year. The National Concession allows nearly 10 million older and disabled people in England to travel on local off-peak bus services for free. We are also developing measures in the upcoming Buses Bill for local authorities to provide improved bus services.’