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Bus deal scheme gets rolling

Monday 18 February 2013 5:00

Bus operators have welcomed an invitation from Passenger Transport Executive, Nexus, to workshops aimed at hammering out a deal to give passengers in Tyne and Wear improved bus services.

The Integrated Transport Authority, ITA, had been proposing quality contracts which would have seen the ITA, through Nexus, taking back direct control of route times and prices and contracting with the operators to provide a specified service on each route at a specified profit margin, with common ticketing.

This has been fiercely opposed by the bus operators who have been proposing partnership working as an alternative.

The proposed workshops will explore how operators, Nexus and the local authorities can work in partnership to deliver improvements including investment in Tyne and Wear’s bus fleet, improving reliability and journey times, new smart ticketing, a new customer charter for bus users and better value fares.

Kevin Carr, chair of the North East Bus Operators’ Association, said: “These workshops should provide an opportunity for Nexus, local councils and all the key players in public transport to fully engage with bus operators and participate in the process of developing a partnership agreement.

“I firmly believe that we are making some very real progress towards a partnership that delivers the ITA’s bus strategy in an affordable and effective way. It’s great news for passengers.”

NEBOA’s partnership is offering fares deals for 16-18 year olds, a new Bus2Bus ticket and proposals to produce savings for local authorities and the setting up of partnership boards across Tyne and Wear to ensure service quality.

Carr added: “We already operate two successful partnerships, in East Gateshead and South Tyneside, which have provided us with considerable experience of using the partnership approach. A county-wide partnership would reap benefits for local councils and, most importantly, our passengers.”