Potential re-regulation for Tyne and Wear

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Nexus pushes plans for ‘London style takeover’ of bus powers in Tyne and Wear

Tyne and Wear transport authority Nexus is looking to retake control of the conurbation’s bus network from private operators with the implementation of a Quality Contract (QC), in what is being hailed the biggest shake up of services since deregulation.

The motion comes after alleged complaints about the privately-run services, which Nexus says “take millions of pounds of taxpayers money while providing unreliable services, rising prices and leaving some communities with poor transport links.”

On Thursday (November 24) councillors were urged to vote plans through allowing a Londonstyle takeover of bus powers, returning responsibilities to the five Tyne and Wear councils. A report was put to councillors on the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) Nexus detailing the failings of the present system, arguing a radical new scheme would provide better services and value for money.

The new scheme would see a single body deciding on routes, timetables and fares, with private companies providing services under a contract – similar to how Metro rail operations are run now by German state-owned DB Regio.

There would be single brand and fare structure, with prices set by the ITA and all income reinvested to support the whole network.

If the new proposals are approved, Nexus staff and councillors will develop a scheme which would see one large contract drawn-up to provide all public transport in Tyne and Wear, covering about 340 routes in the area.

Commercial services would be prevented from operating, ending the deregulated market which has been in place since 1986.

The report’s authors say passengers would be given a full consultation on changes to routes and a customer charter to guarantee standards of service.

Bernard Garner, director general of transport executive Nexus, said: “If we are going to save essential bus services from years of cuts, rising costs and falling passenger numbers, we need to think in a totally new way about how they are delivered.

“Commercial bus companies rely heavily on taxpayer income, but there is no body planning public transport to meet local needs and making sure it is delivered costeffectively.

“The result is a complicated, confusing and wasteful mess with dozens of brands, more than 100 ticket choices and some of our communities poorly served.”