Transport Committee Press Notice

PRESS NOTICE

NEW INQUIRY

BUS SERVICES ACROSS THE UK

The Transport Committee has decided to launch an inquiry into the provision of bus services across the UK.

Our predecessor Committee looked at the bus industry in 2002. Then, it expressed optimism that the long-term decline in bus use appeared to have been halted. Four years on, these hopes have not been realised. The Committee will examine why.

Despite the Government's emphasis on buses being a major part of an integrated transport policy since 1997, bus usage outside London has continued to decline.

The Committee will wish to look at the following issues:

€ Has deregulation worked? Are services better, more frequent, meeting passenger need? Are bus services sufficiently co-ordinated with other forms of public transport; are buses clean, safe, efficient? If not, can deregulation be made to work? How?

€ Is statutory regulation compromising the provision of high quality bus services?

€ Are priority measures having a beneficial effect? What is best practice?

€ Is financing and funding for local community services sufficient and targeted in the right way?

€ Concessionary fares - what are the problems with the current approach? Does the Government's proposal to introduce free local bus travel across the UK for disabled people and the over 60s from 2008 stand up to scrutiny? Should there be a nationwide version of London's Freedom Pass - giving free or discounted travel on all forms of public transport?

€ Why are there no Quality Contracts?

€ Are the powers of the Traffic Commissioners relevant; are they adequately deploying the powers and resources that they currently have? Do they have enough support from Government and local authorities?

€ Is London a sound model for the rest of the UK?

€ What is the future for the bus? Should metropolitan areas outside London be able to develop their own form of regulated competition? Would this boost passenger numbers? If not, what would? Does the bus have a future? In addressing rural railways, the Secretary of State has said that we "cannot be in the business of carting fresh air around the country"; is the same true for buses?

Interested parties are invited to submit written memoranda to the Committee before Wednesday 24 May 2006.

Memoranda should be a maximum of 6 A4 pages in length.

Please submit a single hard copy of your memorandum by post to the above address, and an electronic version preferably by e-mail to transcom@parliament.uk or alternatively on a disk with the hard copy. If you are unable to submit an electronic version of your memorandum, please take particular care to ensure that your submission is legible. All submissions should be final and complete; the Committee does not accept draft memoranda or subsequent amendments. Memoranda submitted to the Committee should be kept confidential until published by the Committee.

Press Notice 35/2005-06- 20 April 2006

Dr John Patterson, Clerk of the Committee