Arriva SC released from Commission undertakings

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New Optare Versas have recently joined Arriva Southern Counties
New Optare Versas have recently joined Arriva Southern Counties

Competition watchdog decision removes final constraint relating to 1995 acquisition of Maidstone & District

Arriva Southern Counties has been released from its Undertakings by the Competition Commission (CC).

The operator was initially bound by the Undertakings in August 1995, when the company was known as Maidstone and District Motor Services Ltd. The terms included the following measures:

Addressing the issue of –

  1. running additional bus services that do not cover their variable and semi-variable costs;
  2. registering additional bus services immediately before a competitor’s services;
  3. running unregistered buses, registering commercial services against competitors’ tendered services and reducing fares on selected bus services; and
  4. restricting access to Pentagon Bus Station at Chatham so as to disadvantage competitors. Pentagon Bus Station was leased by M&D from Rochester upon Medway City Council under a 42-year lease, expiring in 2018.

The first three measures terminated in 1998, but the fourth, which is still in force, comprised undertakings to grant licences to other operators of bus services to use stands at the Pentagon Bus Station, on the conditions that the bus stand made available to other operators by M&D should be the same which M&D use, unless the stand is currently in use, then other operators should be permitted to use the nearest bus stand not already in use; and that M&D should place a sign at the bus stand indicating the services provided by other operators to the same destination.

Since the Undertakings were signed in August 1995, the business and assets of M&D are now owned by Arriva Southern Counties.

Pentagon was replaced by the Chatham Waterfront Bus Station on October 10, 2011, which is owned and managed by Medway Council. The Pentagon is no longer used as a bus station.

Arriva does not have any responsibility for operating the new station other than through its membership of the Chatham Waterfront Bus Station Steering Group Organisation. The Council is responsible for agreeing access and the allocation of stands.

Medway Council’s nondiscriminatory approach to access to stands is set out in an agreement between the Council and any bus operator wishing to access the Chatham Waterfront Bus Station.

As of October 2011, five different bus operators had signed a contract to use the new station. For the aforementioned reasons, and further to advice from OFT, the CC have provisionally concluded Arriva should be released from the Undertakings.

The CC invites written representations from any person or persons who wish to comment. Email [email protected] by January 26, 2012.