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Bus operators' new proposals

Wednesday 7 November 2012 7:00

Bus operators in the region are promising cheaper fares for young people, a new range of bus-to-bus tickets and savings for local councils of £250,000 in the first year of a bus partnership agreement.

In the partnership document, called ‘Better by Far’, the companies are presenting Nexus with a proposal they claim will produce immediate benefits for bus users in Tyne and Wear.

The proposal, by NEBOA, the bus operators association, also includes a ‘no-change amnesty’ under which bus operators are committed to no changes to services in the first 12 months of the partnership.

NEBOA has framed the proposal in response to the Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority asking the executive Nexus to draw up plans for quality contracts under which Nexus would take back direct control of routes times and prices.

It would contract with the operators to provide a specified service on each route with common ticketing. Each route would have a built in profit margin and any extra profit would be ploughed back into the bus services.

The bus operators reacted angrily to this proposal and are rigorously opposed to it. Kevin Carr, chairman of NEBOA said: “Our partnership offering contains clear benefits for existing passengers and a range of new fares that should help us grow patronage on the region’s buses.

“A three-tier approach to ticketing provides simplicity, value for money and customer choice. Bus-to-bus multi operator tickets will suit those people who use the services of more than one company but don’t need to use Metro.

"Single-operator tickets allow companies to offer best-value fares for more local journeys and the Network One multioperator tickets will continue to be ideal for people using buses, Metro, local trains and the Shields ferry.”

“A new ticket range will also mean huge savings for 16 to 18 year-olds. Partnership means cheaper fares for thousands of people next spring, when Nexus have already admitted that fares will rise if a quality contract is introduced.’’

He added: “In the first year of a partnership agreement, bus companies will be investing more than £32m in new vehicles, depots and staff training. Partnership working offers an effective, efficient and affordable method of delivering improvements for Tyne and Wear’s buses.

On the other hand, the quality contract scheme is seriously flawed, exposing local authorities to increased financial risk.

“Implementing a quality contract could take years and involve set-up costs of £2.5m, but if the ITA decides to progress the partnership proposals, all of this could be in place as early as next April and save tax payer’s money.”

NEBOA will meet with members of the Integrated Transport Authority to give a presentation on its proposals on November 9.