Thursday 24 January 2013

Nexus Accused

Nexus has been accused of 'talking down’ the proposed Tyne & Wear Bus Partnership Agreement.

NEBOA chair Kevin Carr has taken the unusual step of writing directly to the fifteen members of the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority to express his concerns.

In the letter, Mr Carr said: “I am becoming increasingly concerned that the reports being put to the ITA continue to ‘talk up’ the proposed quality contract scheme, while ‘talking down’ the proposed partnership agreement and ignoring the considerable progress we’ve made.”
The letter goes on: “The report to the ITA repeats a number of concerns about the partnership proposal. Unfortunately, the report does not say that I have already addressed many of these concerns in long correspondence with Nexus’ Director General.”

 Arriva and Stagecoach vehicles in the centre of
Newcastle yesterday
Mr Carr said: “I wrote to Bernard Garner on 7 December showing that initial work by NEBOA suggests that our partnership proposal will increase ridership by more than half a million trips a year, save the ITA money and produce great fares deals for passengers worth up to £1.7 million. Yet none of this was reported to the ITA.”
“While councillors are continuing to hear the case for quality contracts, they’re not hearing the case for partnership working.”
The partnership proposals from NEBOA include new fares offerings for 16-18 year-olds, offering savings of up to £22 on a four-weekly ticket and a new adult ‘Bus2Bus’ ticket with savings of up to 34 per cent on an existing Day Rover ticket.

 Both Go North East and Stagecoach N E  have invested
 heavily in hybrid vehicles. Since the threat of a Quality
Contract Stagecoach have held back on further investment

Focus Comment After what happened on the West Coast franchise we would have thought that Nexus officials would be taking care to portray a balanced view of the two options available to the ITA.
Both Stagecoach and Go North East have threatened court action if the ITA and Nexus try to rob the companies of their commercial routes. Nexus would have a hard job convincing the courts that they had acted fairly, especially as the bus operators are offering inter operator ticketing - one of the reasons Nexus have used as an excuse for looking at Quality Contracts. 
Customer satisfaction in the north east is on a high, the operators have invested heavily in hundreds of new buses. Operators have put forward a series of impressive proposals in connection with a Quality Partnership. It is highly disappointing to hear that Nexus are trying to lead members of the ITA into an expensive trap that will cost £millions to get up and running and then risk so much public money. There are a number of successful Partnerships in operation already, why do Nexus persevere with the notion that a Contract is of more benefit? 
It has been said that it is even wrong to squander public money on this evaluation exercise. Well, as they say, 'you ain't seen nothing yet', because the amounts involved so far are tiny, compared to what the scheme would cost to get underway. It will also apparently take years to set up.
Maybe what Kevin Carr is saying in his letter is SEE YOU IN COURT!