Saturday 23 June 2012

West Yorkshire Quality Contracts Proposed

Bus services in West Yorkshire could be brought under public control under proposals announced by the local transport authority.
Metro, which funds the area's public transport, said it was considering putting bus services under contract, allowing it to set fares and fine companies that failed to meet targets.
If approved, the scheme would be the only one outside London, although a similar scheme is being looked at for Tyne & Wear.
One bus company said it was "extremely disappointed" at the plan.
The chairman of West Yorkshire Metro Councillor James Lewis said the aim was to "drive up standards in public transport".
He said: "We invited the bus companies to share their views on how they felt they could do this with us earlier in the year but we felt the deliverability wasn't there.
"The ability to hold them to a service and hold them to standards wasn't there in the offer they made so that's why we are moving down the route of quality contracts."
The Quality Bus Contract (QBC) scheme was introduced in the Transport Act in 2000.
It allows local authorities to specify what the local bus network should be and how it should be operated. Under the legislation bus routes and fares can be regulated.
Currently, only Transport for London operates such a scheme
Metro said that moving to the new system "carries some significant risks". Under a QBC any increased costs, such as fuel rises, will have to be met by the authority.
Metro said: "Extra cost would have to be funded either through more public subsidy, fares would have to go up, or services changed".
First Bus, which operate services in West Yorkshire, said: "It is a real shame for bus users in West Yorkshire that they have chosen to pursue an expensive, bureaucratic approach, rather than engage with operators on our plans which will quickly deliver benefits for passengers.
"Quality contracts are completely untried and we believe they will cost council tax payers money they don't have at the moment."
The plans will be put out to public consultation.