South Yorks on course for full bus franchising


South Yorkshire’s buses are set to return to public control under a franchising model that would see depots and fleet owned by the mayoral combined authority.

The region’s metro mayor, Oliver Coppard, has welcomed the conclusion of a franchising assessment that named this model as the preferred option, ‘paving the way for a radical transformation of bus services as quickly and legally as possible’.

The combined authority said that under such a franchising scheme, it would have strategic control of the region’s bus network and the flexibility to make changes within a more sustainable investment model, which could reinvest revenue back into growing the bus network.

The franchising assessment report is subject to approval at a meeting of the authority’s board next week, which would be followed by a independent auditor’s report and a 12-week public consultation before any decision on implementing the scheme.

The combined authority said Mr Coppard ‘has been committed to bus reform since day one of being elected, with feedback from 30 public meetings on bus services across all four boroughs in South Yorkshire telling him the current system is not working for them’.

Mr Coppard said: ‘Having seen the full Franchising Assessment, I believe the assessment shows that bus franchising – taking buses back into public control, so we make all the major decisions not private bus companies – is the best way to do just that; to radically transform how our buses work, and to deliver the services we deserve.’

The assessment found that the combined authority could afford the plans including taking control of the depots and fleets.

Under the preferred model, it would make the depots and fleet available to bidders for the relevant franchise lots, to be used for franchise contracts under the contract terms.

The authority would acquire the legacy fleet from incumbent operators and would be responsible for financing, funding, procuring and delivering enhancements to the depots and fleet, with the operators being responsible for routine maintenance of the fleet and depots.

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