Sudden changes to bus service registration law deliver industry turmoil

A sudden change to the bus service registration process in England – including lengthening the process to 70 days – left the industry shocked.

The regulation for new, altered or cancelled services, came into force on 24 April. The first to learn of the change was the Office of The Traffic Commissioner’s (OTC) bus registration team, the day before.

Local authorities (LAs), trade bodies and operators were left in the dark, the latter only finding out when applications were rejected.

A week after the change, neither the DfT or OTC websites have been updated, and guidance is still awaited.

After an urgent meeting with the DfT, the CPT sent a briefing note to members.

Operators must send an official OTC consultation form to every LA through whose area the service passes, with 28 days notice. If an LA fails to respond within 28 days the operator can submit the registration. It is unclear what happens if a LA objects.

The OTC notice period is reduced from 56 to 42 days. The OTC starts the 42-day period when it receives an application with the LA confirmation.

CPT CEO Simon Posner says: “It is very disappointing that such a fundamental change has been made without warning. 

“This has caused huge concern for operators and has allowed no time for the industry or LAs to adapt their processes.

“CPT has raised this with DfT officials who have confirmed that guidance and advice to operators and local authorities is being prepared as a matter of urgency.

“DfT has also agreed to consider whether a period of grace could be offered in respect of registration applications made after the immediate introduction of the new arrangements.”