Thursday, 16 February 2012

Quality Contracts - Go North East Response

 Typical of Go North East services, a "Ten" liveried Mercedes Citaro, driven by
 a smart uniformed driver on a service that offers good value for money
and runs at high frequency.

Following the proposal from the Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) and Nexus, its passenger transport executive, to take over the running of bus services in Tyne & Wear, Go North East have published their response in the form of a campaign under the banner of Charter for Positive Change and asking for feedback from customers and other stakeholders to help build a strong and positive Charter.
In an effort to explain the problems they say that current arrangements would be swept away and replaced by a system of contracts, administered by bureaucrats and overseen by politicians.
They say "The ITA’s proposed contract scheme would remove our ability to talk to our customers about fares and tickets. Fares would be decided centrally – a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
The ITA’s contracts proposals do nothing themselves to improve the reliability of services – this requires investment in more and better bus priority schemes.
The ITA’s scheme would impose penalties on operators for early or late running, which would inevitably filter through to increased costs and increased fares. Just like reliability, this does not guarantee better services for passengers. That needs investment in bus priority schemes.
The ITA’s contracts would take away the flexible, proactive and responsible approach to communication that Go North East are respected for, as it is essential that bus services are responsive to changing requirements."
These and many other points are made in their web document
Go North East also say that they "believe a Quality Contract model to be completely inappropriate for Tyne and Wear. We have real concerns about whether or not members of the ITA are best qualified to make such challenging technical transport decisions that, after all, have been known to test even those that have been working in transport for many years."

 Go North East have taken route branding to another level, which is much
appreciated and understood by the travelling public
Go North East employs over 2000 local people and have built an excellent reputation for service and  response to customers via their consultations. To see this being swept away at a stroke shows the disrespect for bus companies that exists within the ITA's.
The Tyne & Wear area is closely bordered by Northumberland and Co Durham, with many services crossing these boundaries. The ITA has no jurisdiction over these neighbouring areas but could complicate journey timings and patterns if they insist on services running to their requirements within the Tyne & Wear area, rather than what suits the overall journey.
Having just got the Competition Commission enquiry out of the way the bus companies operating in Tyne & Wear must now spend valuable time fighting yet another battle with power crazy bureaucrats who see bus services as a threat to their Metro system. If they can grab control of buses to subsidise the Metro that would surely be against competition rules.

We will report more on this matter as the situation unfolds

David Gambles