North East’s Nexus rethinks its Quality Contracts plans

PTE Nexus is dropping plans for three big bus Quality Contracts (QCs) in favour of a larger number of smaller depot-level contracts. .

It is the biggest change to the proposed QC Scheme (QCS), and forms part of a supplementary eight-week consultation on its QCS, on five changes to the plans, published last August.

The depot plan comes after the three main operators (Arriva, Go-Ahead and Stagecoach) said that plans to award three main geographical contracts would increase the “likelihood and scale of adverse effects on them to a potentially disproportionate extent.” A QCS must minimise detriment to third parties.

Nexus has also come up with a new proposition for employees, in response to trade union worries about impacts on those forced to move to a new employer.

In response to concerns by Gateshead Council that many of its residents would have to pay higher fares, Nexus will adjust one fare zone boundary.

To allow bidders to source buses without adding significant extra costs to bids, some vehicle specifications could be relaxed in the first two years of the main QC. Finally, a user consultative forum to improve dialogue with the service commissioning body is proposed.

The changes will be laid out in a paper to a meeting tomorrow (Thursday) of the Tyne and Wear ITA.

It will be one of the final acts of the ITA, which is due to be replaced by a new Combined Authority (CA) covering the existing five metropolitan districts plus Durham and Northumberland. However, PTE Nexus will remain.

The CA is expected to start in two months, following Parliamentary approval.

In the meantime, Nexus continues talks with operators on their revised alternative partnership, submitted in December 2013.

Pictured above is Nexus DG Bernard Garner.