Wednesday, 9 November 2022

 Whatever one's views on the legitimacy of an unelected body whose almost 800 members have guaranteed jobs for life, this report from  bus industry trade journal Route One shows that the House of Lords can sometimes hit the nail on the head.

House of Lords report slams poor bus services and ‘wasteful’ bidding processes

A new report released by the House of Lords Build Environment Committee has criticised ‘wasteful competitive bidding processes’, bus service cuts, and ‘services not designed around passenger needs’ as being a hindrance to public transport outside of London.

Public transport in towns and cities calls for government to address these factors, claiming that forecasted cuts of up to 20% risk a “downward spiral of reduced demand” on bus journeys.

It highlights the process of local authority bidding on central government funding, which it says is “costly, resource intensive, and inefficient”. It recommends switching to a system of periodic block grants, which would encourage “more coherent and long-term transport delivery” with “spending priorities determined locally”.

The report also calls for Enhanced Partnerships and franchising schemes to be monitored by local and central government to determine their effectiveness and “value for money”.

Says Lord Moylan, Chair of the Built Environment Committee: “We have called on the government to take action on the areas inhibiting the delivery of quality public transport services in towns and cities outside London. One of the immediate problems is the end of pandemic support funding for buses in March 2023, which could lead to bus cuts of up to 20% and risk a downward spiral of reducing demand. This would hit the poorest hardest.

“The government should also improve the way transport projects are funded, by moving away from local areas bidding for competitive central government capital funding, which is costly, resource intensive and inefficient. Instead, there should be a system of more periodic block grants.

“A framework should be set to allow local authorities to better coordinate local plans and transport planning.”

Other findings and conclusions from the report include calls to evaluate the feasibility of multi-operator ticketing in large towns and cities, improvements to data sharing for passengers, the publication of the review of the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme, and assessment of demand-responsive transport from Fflecsi trials in Wales.

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