Supplementary Memorandum by Passenger
Transport Authorities and Executives (IT 86A)
When Councillor Dowd and I gave evidence to
the Select Committee on 4 December we ran out of time and you
asked me to do some "homework".
I have written to all my fellow Directors General
and am pleased to provide the following response.
Further details are encapsulated in the attached
OFT press release.
The point I made at the Select Committee regarded
a prime weakness in the performance regime in that it is more
expensive for an operator to invest in the necessary number of
units to deliver the agreed train formations than incurring "performance"
penalties for not doing so. Until the performance regime penalties
exceed the cost involved in ensuring service delivery the system
will continue to be abused. I enclose a statement from West Yorkshire
PTE which details the problems they have with Northern Spirit
and the current performance regime.
Effective bus priorities (including priority
at traffic signals) cannot be implemented cheaply; provision needs
to be made for essential parking and loading/unloading. Some local
authorities are less enthusiastic than others, creating short
bus lanes as gestures rather than a real attempt to change the
modal split between buses and cars.
The PTE/As believe that road space should be
allocated on the basis of the most efficient movement of people
and goods rather than just vehicles, and bus lanes are an essential
ingredient in delivering a local integrated transport strategy.
We believe the Government should ringfence monies
allocated to bus priorities to prevent local authority engineers
being tempted to use some of the funds for other highway works.
Enforcement both to prevent cars using bus lanes
and vehicles parking in bus lanes needs to be treated more seriously
by the Police, than it has hitherto. Authorities that have invested
in colouring the lanes distinctively have found less abuse.
I enclose details of a recent example in Sunderland.
PTEG is fully supportive of bus quality partnerships
as a means of working with operators and local authorities to
provide better bus services. The commitment in the Transport White
Paper to providing statutory support for such partnerships is
We hope the forthcoming "daughter"
paper will give a clear indication as to the Government's expectations
regarding the minimum level of service quality that should be
achieved from quality partnerships and the resolution of the current
dichotomy of unfettered access to the market/free competition
as against the development of the quality partnership.
The intention to legislate to provide local
authorities to require operators to meet certain standards of
service quality in order to use the facilities provided by the
local authority (or, presumably, a PTA) as part of the quality
partnership is also welcomed. This will ensure that the joint
efforts of the public and private sector to provide better quality
services will no longer be undermined by a few poorer quality
services operating in a quality partnership area.
All PTAs and PTEs are involved in promoting
bus quality partnerships with their local bus companies and local
authorities showing what can be attempted without primary legislation.
For example, Centro (the West Midlands PTE) has recently agreed
a new basis for bus quality partnerships which includes a commitment
from the major bus operator, Travel West Midlands, to provide
£10 million a year to investment in information and infrastructure.
However we believe early legislation is vital
if real and long term quality partnerships are going to work in
the best interests of the travelling public, and the Council Tax
We welcome the recognition of Government that
in some circumstances quality contracts may be necessary to guarantee
the necessary improvements in bus services. The continued intention
of Government to legislate for quality contracts is considered
to be essential.
Service quality embraces all the elements of
a journey from the availability of information in the home before
the journey is commenced to the time and place of arrival.
Michael J Parker
25 January 1999