PTEG calls for easier franchising

Confirmation that franchising is still on the agenda for Passenger Transport Executive Group (PTEG) came in the wake of a promise by Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Mary Creagh MP, to make franchising easier.

The Shadow Secretary of State was speaking at a PTEG fringe meeting at last week’s Labour Conference.

Cllr James Lewis, Chair of PTEG’s City Regions Transport group, says: “For too long now on buses it has been one system for London, and another for the rest of the country.

“In London services are planned and integrated with simple, Oyster-style ticketing. Outside London, Whitehall has been content for communities to have no real say or influence over their local bus services and no prospect of passengers getting the smart, simple Oyster-style ticketing that London takes for granted.

“The current legal process for introducing London-style franchising of bus services is unnecessarily complex and convoluted. Especially when, as we have seen in the North East, multi-nationals like Stagecoach have threatened to take any opportunity they can to frustrate, block and undermine any local transport authority that dares challenge the monopoly super profits that they currently extract from deregulated bus services.

“Devolution has been the hot topic at this conference and there is no better way of devolution making a practical difference to people’s lives than giving local transport authorities the powers they need to take charge of their own public transport systems.

“Powers that would give people local bus services that respond to what local communities want, rather than what Whitehall and big corporations are prepared to give us.”