Bus Services Bill [HL]

Written evidence submitted by Arriva (BSB 10)

1. Introduction

1.1. Arriva welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Bus Services Public Bill Committee Call for Evidence. Arriva is one of the largest providers of passenger transport in Europe, employing approximately 60,000 people and delivering more than 2.2 billion passenger journeys across 14 European countries each year. Arriva brings extensive experience of transportation across the UK where it operates a wide range of services including local buses, inter-urban commuter coaches, local, regional and national train services and non-emergency patient transport. With a fleet of some 5,900 buses, Arriva is one of the UK’s largest bus operators, providing services for customers in the north east, north west and south east of England, Yorkshire, the Midlands and Wales. Arriva is a major player in the London bus market where it operates 1,600 buses for Transport for London.

2. Executive summary

2.1. Arriva welcomes measures that enable operators to focus on increasing passenger numbers through providing reliable, high quality and value for money bus services. We want to make bus travel an even more attractive choice for passengers and help tackle barriers to growth.

2.2. The Bus Services Bill, as originally introduced by the Government, is an enabling piece of legislation that provides a framework that could support operators and their partners in focusing on the goal to increase passenger numbers. Arriva supports the principle of devolving powers around transport where that boosts patronage and helps to remove barriers to bus travel.

2.3. Arriva believes that the outcome by which the effectiveness of bus policy should be tested at national, regional and local level is whether it supports the growth of a sustainable increase in bus passenger numbers and provides an effective framework for operators to deliver passenger-focused services and investment. Such measures will promote modal shift, boost local economies and deliver environmental benefits.

3. Partnership working

3.1. We welcome that the Bill provides a range of measures that operators and authorities can pursue in light of local priorities and requirements, ensuring that any agreed measures reflect local transport markets. We firmly believe that effective partnerships between bus operators and local government are the way forward to grow passenger numbers and we are strongly supportive of measures to encourage partnership working.

3.2. Effective partnerships with local government and operators have been proven in many areas to improve bus usage, attracting people out of their cars through making bus travel an even more attractive choice. One example is the Liverpool City Region Bus Alliance, a partnership between Merseytravel, Arriva and Stagecoach, which will deliver more than £25m worth of investment in bus services in the first year. This will see more investment in bus fleets, improved smart ticketing, Wi-Fi and USB charging on all new buses so passengers can charge their mobile devices on the move, integrated marketing, improved on-bus cleaning and customer service training, improved links to the city’s John Lennon Airport and a continued pilot of a new night bus service.

3.3. In the Tees Valley region, alongside our passenger-focused approach and investment in new services, we have worked in partnership with local authorities and other operators to improve networks, services and facilities. Transport Focus has recorded the overall customer satisfaction rate at 90% in Tees Valley. [1]

4. Investment and planning

4.1. Arriva is concerned that an unintended consequence of the Bill will be the creation of ongoing uncertainty through the granting of franchising powers to authorities, even where those powers are not used.

4.2. If an authority should choose to bring forward plans for franchising - or definitively rule it out for a clearly stated period of time - then operators and stakeholders will know where they stand and can plan accordingly. Ongoing uncertainty could damage the ability of operators to make long-term planning and investment decisions, inhibiting the Government’s objectives of growing bus passenger numbers and improving services. 

4.3. To address these concerns, secondary legislation should ensure that authorities are clear about their intentions regarding franchising. Guidance should reflect that one of the requirements for partnership agreements is for the relevant parties to agree that there will be no move to introduce franchising for a certain number of years, as a minimum. Consideration should also be given to ensuring that authorities are only able to bring forward a franchise scheme at set periods, so this can be planned for.

5. Urban Congestion

5.1. The Bill says very little on how to tackle urban congestion, which is one of the biggest challenges facing the bus sector. Research from Professor David Begg shows that congestion is one of the biggest barriers to greater bus usage, with journey times increasing by 10% per decade [2] . To overcome this problem, local authorities should be required to set targets for average bus speeds. This could be achieved by secondary legislation or guidance underpinning the Bill and in deregulated environments become a requirement for new Enhanced Partnerships. If transport authorities are encouraged to collect and publish statistics on bus speeds then the visibility of the problem will improve and action can be taken. Enhanced Partnerships provide an opportunity for operators and transport authorities to work together to tackle urban congestion.

6. Open data, technology and ticketing

6.1. We support measures that enhance the passenger experience. Arriva developed the first fully national real-time bus app, which has a full trip planner and provides access to timetables, fares and real-time information for every individual bus route operated by Arriva. This app has had more than one million downloads since its launch in June 2014.

6.2. We are supportive of measures to make data freely available where it can help passengers plan their journey. Arriva has led the way in the use of open data and has made real-time data freely available to local authorities and other stakeholders, including Google.

6.3. We welcome measures for local authorities which encourage improved ticketing arrangements and multi-operator ticketing schemes. Arriva is committed to simple, convenient and easy-to-use tickets, and has helped to deliver multi-ticketing schemes, which have been well received by customers.

6.4. It is important that there is a harmonised approach across cities or regions wherever possible, with authorities and industry working together to avoid unnecessary complication or a proliferation of different schemes using different technology which increases costs and adds complexity for passengers.

March 2017

[1] Transport Focus, Bus Passenger Survey, 2015

[2] The Impact of Congestion on Bus Passengers, 2016


Prepared 15th March 2017