Shadow minister’s Quality Contract commitment welcomed from cities outside London

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Shadow Transport Minister Mary Creagh’s has made a commitment to make it easier for transport authorities to pursue Quality.

The commitment was made at the Passenger Transport Executive Group (pteg) fringe meeting at Labour party conference on September 23.

Cllr James Lewis, Chairman of the City Regions Transport group of the largest transport authorities outside London, said: “Buses are the main form of public transport and without them our cities would grind to a halt. They are also essential for giving the workless access to jobs and for young people to get into education and training.

“For too long now on buses it has been one system for London, and another for the rest of the country. In London services are planned and integrated with simple, Oyster-style ticketing. Outside London, Whitehall has been content for communities to have no real say or influence over their local bus services and no prospect of passengers getting the smart, simple Oyster-style ticketing that London takes for granted.

“Devolution has been the hot topic at this conference and there is no better way of devolution making a practical difference to peoples’ lives than giving local transport authorities the powers they need to take charge of their own public transport systems. Powers that would give people local bus services that respond to what local communities want rather than what Whitehall and big corporations are prepared to give us.”

Responding, CPT Chief Executive, Simon Posner, said: “CPT firmly believes that partnership working between bus operators and local authorities/stakeholders is ultimately best for bus passengers.  A commercialised market allows for competitive pricing structures, leads to improved services and a vibrant bus industry.

“Time and again the evidence shows that where bus services are under the control of cash-strapped local authorities fares are higher (the most expensive urban weekly bus ticket in the country is sold in London), the market is less stable, services are being lost, and passenger satisfaction rates are lower.

“Delivering high-quality bus services is a shared responsibility. When operators and local authorities work together in partnership, real benefits for the passenger are achieved – a fact recognised in recent pteg and Transport Select Committee reports.”