Fundamental change for better bus services - Alexander

A raft of new proposals that mark the most fundamental change in the operation of buses for 20 years were unveiled today by Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander.

"Putting Passengers First" outlines Government proposals to change the way buses are run, strengthening the working partnerships between local authorities and bus companies to attract more passengers in the long term.

The key changes being considered in Putting Passengers First are:

* On greater partnership working between local authorities and operators, making it easier for local authorities to have a say in bus frequency, timetables and fares.
* On punctuality, giving Traffic Commissioners greater powers of enforcement , holding not just operators but for the first time local authorities to account for the performance of local bus services
* On quality contracts (franchising) in the right circumstances making it a realistic option for local authorities to introduce schemes tailored to local needs.
* Allowing local charities and community groups to provide services in areas poorly served by other transport.
* On the environment, making sure that current bus subsidies help to support the Government's environmental objectives.
Douglas Alexander said:

"To many people buses are a lifeline, giving them access to jobs and shops and allowing them to stay in touch with family and friends. But since deregulation some areas have seen a free-for-all, with the needs of passengers being neglected.

In some areas - where local authorities and bus operators work in partnership for the benefit of passengers - the number of people using buses has gone up.

But in too many areas passengers are simply not getting the services they expect, and as a result passenger numbers have declined. By sharing best practice and giving local authorities and operators the tools they need to work effectively together, all passengers, regardless of where they live, should start to enjoy the benefits of top quality bus services."