Appraising the Bus Services Bill – Lessons from the UK Experience
Cameron McArdle, Department for Transport
This paper presents the findings of the Department for Transport’s appraisal of the Bus Services Bill.
This paper presents the findings of the Department for Transport’s appraisal of the Bus Services Bill. The Bill, currently going through Parliament, is the most significant piece of legislation on buses that the UK has seen since the 1980s, when bus services were deregulated. The Bill offers local authorities additional powers to influence their local bus markets. It aims to strengthen arrangements for partnership working (i.e. statutory agreements based on mutual benefit) between local authorities and operators in the sector. It aims to introduce new standards in the journey information available to bus passengers. And it introduces rail-style franchising powers for local authorities, which some areas have started to pursue. While the Bill gives local authorities new powers to influence their local bus markets, it does not mandate or prescribe policies. As such, appraising the effects of the Bill was a challenge. The paper discusses the Department’s approach, which was to use illustrative levels of uptake of the powers, and present results for a variety of potential outcomes.
The potential benefits from the Bill include improved journey quality and services, rationalisation of routes, and simplified ticketing. However, its success will depend on the ability of local authorities to devise, plan, and execute strategies which take advantage of the new suite of powers available. We discuss the methodology of the appraisal, including the use of a bespoke model commissioned to appraise the effects of franchising or partnership on local bus markets. After presenting the findings, we discuss how the policy will be evaluated going forward.
Association for European Transport