Sunday, 22 May 2016

Update on Bus Services Bill and transport news roundup

I have a news update for everyone on the bus industry in Britain. To start us off, the Bus Services Bill has been published for the public to view.

From Route One
Bus Services Bill is published: Now the debating can start

The wait is finally over as the Bus Services Bill has been published.

The 88-page, 33,500 word bill was published late on Friday afternoon (20 May).

Lord Ahmed of Wimbledon - who speaks for the Department for Transport in the House of Lords - introduced the Bill yesterday (a procedural formality) and ordered it to be printed.

The bill covers eight key areas:
·         Advanced Quality Partnership Schemes
·         Franchising Schemes
·         Advanced Ticketing schemes
·         Enhanced Partnership Plans and Schemes
·         Powers to make Traffic Regulation Orders
·         Powers to require the provision of information about bus services
·         Registration of bus services
·         Bus Companies: Limitations of powers of authorities

The second reading of the bill takes place in the House of Lords on 8 June. It then goes through the Committee Stage in the House of Lords, before passing to the Commons, with an expected crucial period of debate in mid-October.

Responding, the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has today (20 May) promised to work with the Government and all key stakeholders to ensure that the Bus Services Bill “produces the best possible results for passengers and bus operators alike.”

Says CEO Simon Posner: “The CPT and its members fully support the move towards devolution as local bus services serve local bus markets.

“We firmly believe that the best results for passengers are achieved when operators work together in partnership.

“We are convinced that passengers outside London are best served by a commercial regime which has stemmed the decline in patronage and given bus operators the flexibility to respond to passenger needs and aspirations, developing their services accordingly.

“The CPT supports the Government’s proposals in the Bill for advanced quality partnership schemes and enhanced partnerships.

“Where such an arrangement offers the best opportunity for growing patronage whilst allowing operators to innovate, develop their services and retain their commercial freedom, the industry will work with local authorities to ensure the best possible deal is achieved for passengers.”

On the subject of franchising he adds: “But where local authorities consider introducing franchising CPT is pleased to see that those proposals will be subject to robust and fair public and financial tests, and that the Bill aims to allow small and medium enterprise (SME) operators to compete fairly.

“The industry supports the Government’s proposal to ensure that passengers are able to access full data on routes, timetables and fares. Much of this information is already available through Traveline, which is a partnership between transport operators, local authorities and passenger groups.”

The CPT will continue to examine the provisions contained in the Bill and will follow its progress through Parliament.

You can view the bill here. The Department of Transport has published an overview of the Bus Services Bill which you can view here; those files need to be viewed with a PDF reader.

The first franchised bus service in England could start around 2018/19. Hopefully we may see more cross boundary routes linking to various towns in the Outer London areas.

First Group gives their reaction to the Bus Services Bill:

First Bus, the leading bus operator in the UK, today welcomed the stronger arrangements to allow local government to work in partnership with operators to improve local bus services, detailed in today’s announcement of the Bus Services Bill.

This Bill sets out a range of options for improving local bus services, including a stronger role for partnerships with operators.

The Bill also allows areas which have devolution deals with Government to introduce franchising.

First Bus points to a number of its local partnerships as proof that this approach is the best way forward.

In Bristol for example, in response to that City's support for buses, First Bus has invested in new environmentally friendly vehicles, delivering higher frequencies, new service links, and a strong night-time network. New ticketing systems, simplified fares and for many, cheaper fares have also been delivered. This has encouraged passenger growth in excess of 25%, contributing massively to the city economy and environment.

In Sheffield, which was the country’s first Better Bus Area, partners have now implemented a second round of improvements that have seen a revised network designed to meet the city’s needs and provide a platform for growth.

In Cornwall, despite having negotiated a devolution deal with the Government which includes powers for bus franchising, the council is now clear that it is working to develop its partnership with bus operators, rather than take up those powers.

Giles Fearnley, Managing Director of First Bus, said:

"We passionately share the aim of national Government and local councils to improve services for all passengers using buses to help solve the UK’s chronic congestion issues, improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions.

Our experience in many places including Bristol, Cornwall, Sheffield and Leeds clearly demonstrates that working in strong partnership with local government is the best, quickest and cheapest way to improve services, and attract more people to bus travel.
We are delighted the strengthening of partnerships is an option for local authorities, and look forward to working with MPs and peers to ensure that we have legislation that delivers benefits for customers.”

FirstGroup is delivering many highly successful bus partnerships with local authorities across the country. Some examples include:
·         Bus Partnerships in South Yorkshire: Voluntary Bus Partnership agreements are in place in Sheffield, Rotherham & Doncaster bringing together South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, the area’s local authorities and bus operators including First South Yorkshire. Revised networks are providing better timetables and eliminating “over-bussing”, alongside infrastructure investments to improve reliability and punctuality. Smart, lower-priced and multi-operator tickets are making travel simpler, and new, more environmentally friendly vehicles are being introduced in many areas.
·         Cornwall Bus Partnership – As part of the region’s devolution deal, Cornwall Council has committed to developing and delivering a Bus and Integrated Transport Strategy with local partners including First Kernow. The partnership is working towards the ambition of creating a high quality, sustainable and affordable bus system, through investment in vehicles, infrastructure, information, and integrated ticketing and timetables.

Now we have some bad news; WebberBus from Bridgwater, Somerset has ceased operation.

Bridgwater, Somerset based WebberBus has ceased operating. Somerset County Council was made aware of the cessation of operations on 12 May 2016. In a statement, the Council said it responded immediately to the situation, arranging for other operators to take on the company’s routes where possible. All services taking students to schools and colleges were covered by replacement buses on the morning of 13 May. According to press reports, up to 100 people could lose their job.

First has stepped in to save the majority of services, with Hatch Green Coaches and Crosville Motor Services taking on some work. All current school bus passes have remained valid despite some school services passing to Bakers Dolphin, Berry’s Coaches, Crosville, Taunton Minibuses and P&V Minibuses.

MD of First’s Buses of Somerset operation, Alex Carter, said, ‘Our main priority is to ensure that Somerset bus customers are provided with a good bus service. We are working closely with Somerset County Council to ensure that all affected routes previously run by WebberBus are covered. Of course, we will accept WebberBus tickets up to their expiry dates on all services so that customers are not left out of pocket. On Thursday, we were able to provide emergency services to colleges to ensure that no students were left stranded. We are now working up plans with Council officials to see how we can assist with maintaining these vital services to schools and colleges in the area.’

B&CB has telephoned WebberBus on several occasions but had not received any comment on the closure at the time of going to press.

Next up, we have a new London Bus tender update which was reported on Friday 20th May 2016.


New contract awards from TfL:
Tranche 548
·         59 re-awarded to Arriva London South with existing New Routemasters, PVR 28 (including 2 ex route 38). Start date 28 January 2017
·         133/N133 re-awarded to Arriva London South with new Euro VI and existing Euro V hybrid double decks, PVR 32. Start date 21 January 2017
·         333 awarded to Arriva London South (currently London General) with new Euro VI hybrid double decks, PVR 16. Start date 21 January 2017.
Route 59 will continue to terminate and stand at Brixton Garage. Routes 133 & N133 will use 20 Euro V hybrids currently allocated to route 76 which will be upgraded to Euro VI before the introduction of the ULEZ.

And here’s the rest of the news from LOTS:

·         More than half of the 23x LTs (745-767) for Metroline route 91 are now in service and delivery has begun of the 21x LTs (768-788) for Abellio route 211. Of course the Sunday operation on the 211 is already LT using buses spare from the 3 and 159.
·         At Stagecoach East London the batch of 40 new E40Ds (10308-347) is almost complete with just two of Barking’s and five of Romford’s outstanding.
·         At Abellio their next big day comes next Saturday 28th May when they take over three routes from Metroline. All of the new E20D(MMC)s, 8142-54 (9.0m) for the E5 and 8865-75 (10.9m) for the E7 are in stock and already at Hayes Garage, while nine older E400s (9456-64) are due to take over the E9. On the same date Metroline will extend the E8 to Hounslow and convert it fully to double-deck using VWs, in the process removing the last MMs (MAN/MCV) single-decks from passenger service.
·         The first few (of twenty) Volvo B5TL/ MCV EviSeti part open top buses (batch 125-144) are now In service at Golden Tours in London. They will replace the dual door Tridents. Carousel’s latest three StreetLites (407/8/9) in blue livery are due into service in the coming week at High Wycombe on the Park and Ride service, allowing the red StreetLites used thereon so far to join their sisters on the A40/740/730 group of routes.

Hopefully, with the Bus Services bill it will allow local authorities to regulate bus operators to buy more low emission buses to enable cleaner air for the local town, helping to combat harmful diesel emissions.

With the new London Mayor, at least he's regulated bus operators to buy only hybrid or zero emission double-decker buses; the deadline is 2018 for the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). The new plans also include extending the ULEZ to most of  the inner London area and implement it in 2018, two years earlier; you can view more on my previous article here.

Lastly, an update from TfL about extending London Overground services:

From TFL
London Overground customers are now benefiting from an increase in evening services after extra trains were added to a number of routes on the network.

Demand has continued to grow on the London Overground, particularly at night, and to meet this services on the East London line have been increased from two to four trains per hour between 22:00 and 23:30, on the following routes:
·         Dalston Junction to New Cross
·         Highbury & Islington to West Croydon
·         Highbury & Islington to Crystal Palace
·         Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction

The changes, introduced this week, follow improvements completed at the end of 2015 where much of the London Overground network went from four to five carriage trains, increasing capacity by 25 per cent.

Mike Stubbs, Director of London Overground, said: `This is great news for our customers. The East London line is becoming increasingly popular, particularly at night, with many enjoying what London has to offer. To meet this increase in demand we have boosted frequency by 50 per cent on some late night services, significantly increasing capacity.'

Earlier this year TfL announced that Arriva will take over from existing operator LOROL in November 2016 to operate the London Overground network, and will support TfL in delivering further improvements for customers on the already hugely popular network. These will include modernised stations and more frequent services, the first of which is planned on the North London line. New trains will also be introduced in 2018, transforming journeys on London Overground routes out of Liverpool Street and on the Gospel Oak to Barking line.

That’s all I have for you at the moment so don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Google Plus which is @CLondoner92

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Image attribution
By Geof Sheppard - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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