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Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 336-339)




  336. Good afternoon, gentlemen. Can I ask you to identify yourselves for the record?
  (Mr Hendy) My name is Peter Hendy. I am the managing director of Surface Transport for Transport for London.
  (Mr Teer) Alan Teer. I am the group manager for Passenger Transport, Surrey County Council.

  337. Do either of you wish to say anything in introduction?
  (Mr Teer) I have probably written a very depressing submission to you but I just wanted to give some good news from our point of view. Mainly I have been saying in the past that, whenever I meet the operators—we have regular meetings with them called the Passenger Transport Liaison Group—you have to hide the razor blades because you are wondering which operator is going into receivership next; but the good news is that where Arriva withdrew from east Surrey we have put the whole lot out to tender and Metrobus won. They have been in since last May and our figures show that ridership has increased by 15.7 per cent since they have taken over, so that is very pleasing and we have reliable services, better inspection and better driver training.

  338. Why is there such large passenger growth in London?
  (Mr Hendy) The growth pattern in London on buses has been rising at a modest rate of about 3 per cent for some years. It has now gone up to 6 and in February/March it was 8 per cent, year on year. It relates to a number of factors. There is no one factor. All of the market research suggests that frequency and reliability are the principal determinants of passenger growth on buses. To that, I would add network coverage because the London bus network has been growing in its coverage, particularly its night coverage and Sundays, for a number of years. A consistent fares policy, which is simple and integrated, has an effect. Competent, decent information, both before travel and real time, helps. There is the difficulty of car travelling in London and there are two other factors, one of which is the inability of the underground to absorb any more passengers. There is a view within Transport for London that that may not change for the immediate future. Also, there is the growth of population in London.

  339. Do you think you would have got the same effect in London on a deregulated service?
  (Mr Hendy) No. It is a very complex set of circumstances but there was a moment—my predecessor, Clive Hodson would say it lasted for some months—in which the London bus network needed no subsidy at all. That was achieved largely on the backs of the staff who absorbed worse pay and conditions.


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