PTEs welcome NAO report on bus service delivery

Press release

pteg, which represents the UK’s seven Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs), welcomed today's 'Delivery Chain Analysis for Bus Services', a joint report by the National Audit Office and Audit Commission.

PTEs are one of Britain's biggest backers of bus services - investing around half a billion pounds a year - in seven of Britain's largest city regions.

Tim Larner, Director of the pteg Support Unit, said:

“The report highlights the growing gulf between bus services in London and those in the rest of the country - and the role that franchising has played in the success of London’s bus network.  It praises Transport for London’s use of Quality Incentive Contracts to ensure that bus operators delivery the sort of services that passengers expect. 

“The report also rightly points out that, in contrast with London, it is bus operators who choose where and how to run services, on the basis of profitability, in PTE areas.  This is why PTEs are bringing forward London-style franchising of bus services.”

The report calls on local authorities to do more to create the conditions for better bus services outside London.   Tim Larner added:

“PTEs are committed to working in partnership with operators and highway authorities to bring about improvements for bus passengers wherever we can.  The PTEs are delivering on ambitious programmes of bus priority, bus station upgrades and real time information at bus stops and by mobile phones. They are also investing in new and innovative services like guided buses, yellow school buses and flexible demand-responsive services.

“There is more we can, and will, do. However, there are limits to what voluntary partnerships can achieve when there is no effective regulation of fares, service frequencies and quality, or network stability.  The Government's own statistics show that the majority of cancellations in our areas are not due to traffic congestion but to factors under operator control - like staff shortage or buses breaking down.

“Lack of effective regulation is a key factor in the decline in bus use in our areas in the same way that regulation of London's bus services is a key factor in their success.”