Operators in uproar over Nexus QC plans

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Stagecoast North East MD John Conroy
Stagecoast North East MD John Conroy

Nexus’ plan to introduce Quality Contracts (QCs) to the North East has been met with more resistance during talks between bus operators, Nexus and councillors on the Tyne and Wear ITA.

The controversial QCs proposed by Nexus would see it set up routes, times and fares. Nexus claims current operators are “carving up” the region with limited competition.

Les Warneford, MD of Stagecoach UK Bus, said he “would not see his buses taken away by some foreign train operator”, a reference to the Metro rail network having been won by Germany’s state-owned rail operator DB, adding “Nexus and the ITA were operating in the same camp as Marx, Lenin and Trotsky”.

He added: “If the ITA were successful in the European Court, they would need to be prepared to take over services straight away as we would immediately cease operations. We would not hand over any depots to Nexus; we would move buses elsewhere and make all staff redundant.”

Go North East warned the QCs could “threaten investment in the region and made it less likely it would hand over commercial data for any other purposes.”

Stagecoach North East MD John Conroy added he would refuse to hand to Nexus any further commercial information to help the development of a QC, and did not want information previously handed over to be used.

Cllr Greg Stone, Lib Dem, sitting on the ITA, said: “I hope that in what seems to be a Nexus v bus company turf war, the needs of the passenger come first.”

Nexus director general Bernard Garner said: “The ITA has asked Nexus to look into options for improving bus services. Although no decision has yet been taken over the best way forward, we are looking at both franchising and closer partnership working.

“The initial reaction of some bus companies to this work has been quite hostile, but we hope to have more positive discussions over the next few weeks. We intend to report our findings to the ITA later this year.”