Sunday, 6 May 2012

NE Bus Operators Briefing Document

The fight against Quality Contracts by North East Bus Operators continues with the publication of a briefing document, extracts of which are listed below. One of the main points is that large sums are being spent on investigating and promoting idea of taking control of the buses at a time when customer satisfaction is at an all time high.
No network maps, service plans, timetables, pricing schedules or budget for the proposed QCS have been published and rumour has it that the old idea of bus services being terminated at Metro Stations and passengers being forced to transfer to trains has surfaced again.
Metro does its own thing on fares which don't match those of buses and bus companies offer a tremendous range of competing tickets which are all likely to disappear if Nexus and the ITA grab control. We wonder what the competition Commission will think to that?
 A new grey livery is being introduced for the Metro trains and buses
that work under contract to Nexus. The prospect of grey buses feeding
passengers to grey Metro stations and trains is not a happy one.
Passengers commuting into Newcastle or Sunderland from the counties of Durham or Northumberland would hardly be pleased to be told that their bus services are being restricted at the Tyne & Wear boundary and that the final stage of the journey is to be taken on a crowded Metro train - oh and you will have to pay more for the privilege!
David Gambles

Extracts from the NE Bus Operators Briefing Document are shown below

TWITA and Nexus face a black hole in their finances in the years ahead, with costs
outstripping the income they receive from central government grants (tax payers), the levy
on districts (council tax payers) and the income from fares (passengers). TWITA is spending
£600,000 of council taxpayers’ money on investigating a so-called Quality Contract Scheme
(QCS) as a core component of its medium term financial strategy. However, this “low
quality” approach would mean:
· Higher fares and reduced services for bus passengers already affected by rising costs
· Potential redundancies, loss of pensions and pay cuts for bus company employees
· A significant extra financial burden on households and council tax payers whose
living standards are already being squeezed by the recession - even those who do not
use buses.
· A likely impact on bus services in areas of Northumberland and Durham where routes
cross the Tyne and Wear boundary.
· Significant risks in the transition to a new system, with potential disruption to services
· No guarantee that a new system would deliver its claimed objectives or cost-savings.
· Local people footing the bill for legal costs and compensations claims.
Local bus passengers are also being kept in the dark about what their bus services would
look like. No network maps, service plans, timetables, pricing schedules or budget for the
proposed QCS have been published. The reality is that bus services in Tyne and Wear have
benefited from significant investment by bus operators and customer satisfaction is already
the highest in the UK.
  If the routes are taken from the current operators the colourful liveries introduced
by Go North East are likely to disappear and be replaced by the Nexus grey and red

There is a simpler, better value and proven alternative which can build on these current
high standards. In a Voluntary Partnership Agreement, transport authorities and bus companies
are firmly committed to delivering formally agreed practical measures to improve the
quality and reliability of bus services.

Despite the fact that around 75% of public transport journeys in Tyne and Wear are by bus and only 22% are by Metro. Nexus spends nearly four times as much on the Metro system than it does on local bus services. £580 million of tax payers’money is to be spent updating Metro infrastructure and trains and in covering the system’s multi-million-pound losses, but support for buses is being cut.