Enhanced partnerships will need new strategies

For decades, UK bus operators have sought to contain economic regulation, while local authorities have consistently argued for increased powers. As with some medieval siege, nobody can quite remember when the fighting broke out, and entire careers have been spent on policy battles without either side giving up an inch of territory. It is not inaccurate to say that this Hundred Years' War has its origins in the 1920s, with regulatory victories for the authorities in 1930 and 1968, and the operators in 1986.

The Bus Services Bill is now law, and will give English local authorities new powers to control bus services in their areas, and the first metro-mayors have been elected. The existential threat of London-style operating contracts has led most operators to welcome any alternative to the franchise model. In my view, enhanced partnerships, which the new Act also introduces, are likely to be challenging for both sides, and will involve some difficult maths.

Full article available in the current issue of Transport Times

David Leeder, Managing Partner, Transport Investment Limited (TIL)

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