Bus Services Bill

House of Lords, Third Reading, Wednesday 23 November 2016

Key messages

  • The LGA supports the overall aims of the Bus Services Bill. As the most used form of public transport, buses support local economies by connecting communities and providing access to vital public services and jobs. The current bus franchising system needs to be reformed to improve bus services for passengers. Local transport authorities need a more effective set of powers to improve services for local residents, and reverse the decline of services in areas outside London.

Bus franchising

  • It is positive to see Peers have agreed on amendment which will ensure that all areas have automatic rights to bus franchising powers, not just Mayoral Combined Authorities. The requirement for the Secretary of State for Transport's approval for non-Mayoral Combined Authorities for franchising is counter to the principles of devolution. It is important that this has been removed from the Bill, to ensure bus franchising decisions are made locally.

New municipal bus companies

  • We are also pleased that Peers voted in support of an amendment to ensure councils retain the power to form new municipal bus companies. We were concerned that Clause 21 of the Bill would remove powers granted to councils under the 2011 Localism Act and associated General Power of Competence provisions. It's important this clause was removed from the Bill, as councils should continue to be allowed to form new companies which are able to compete either in the open market place or for council contracts if they are able to offer a better service and value-for-money for bus users, or step in as a provider of last resort. Advanced Quality Partnership and Enhance Partnership Schemes
  • Advanced Quality Partnership Schemes (AQP scheme) build on the existing Quality Partnership scheme arrangements. Under an AQP scheme, a local transport authority can introduce bus improvement measures when a scheme is introduced instead of being restricted to providing new infrastructure. We are supportive of the development and creation of new and existing partnership schemes. However, we want to ensure these schemes are a practical option for councils and sufficient support is provided by commercial bus operators.

Open Data

  • We are supportive of the Bill's proposals on open data, which will provide more accurate door-to-door journey planning across England. It should lead to better information services that will make bus travel more attractive to local people.

Other reforms, including funding

  • We would like the Government to pursue, in parallel with the Bill, other measures to promote bus services. This includes fully funding the national concessionary fares scheme, devolving Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) to all areas and implementing local authority enforcement powers for moving traffic violations. Supporting more councils to adopt Workplace Parking Levy schemes will also help to reduce congestion and attract an improved bus offer.

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LGA briefing - Bus Services Bill, House of Lords, Third Reading, Wednesday 23 November 2016


House of Lords, Report Stage - Monday 24 October 2016

Key messages

  • We support Amendment 111 led by Lord Kennedy of Southwark, Baroness Jones of Whitchurch and Baroness Randerson in their intention to oppose Clause 21 of the Bus Services Bill. Clause 21 prevents local authorities from forming a company for the purpose of providing a local bus service. This would remove powers granted to councils under the 2011 Localism Act and associated General Power of Competence Provisions. Councils should continue to be allowed to form companies which are able to compete either in the open market place or for council contracts if they are able to offer a better service and value-for-money for bus users.

  • There are also wider funding issues to be considered. The Bus Services Operators Grant would automatically be devolved to local authorities which have franchising powers. This funding could be used to improve bus services for local residents, and should automatically come to all local authorities, not just Mayoral Combined Authorities. It will be crucial these extra powers are accompanied by the necessary funding to ensure that local authorities are able to exercise them effectively.

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Bus Services Bill, House of Lords, Report Stage - Monday 24 October 2016


House of Lords, Report Stage, Wednesday 12 October

Key messages

  • The LGA supports Amendment 3 to Clause 1 tabled by Lord Bradshaw and Baroness Randerson. This seeks to ensure local authorities have the power to enforce traffic offences, as part of an advanced quality partnership scheme. However, it is important that all councils have enforcement powers to deal with moving traffic offences to help improve the reliability and punctuality of buses, making them a more attractive mode of travel.
  • We support Amendment 111 to Clause 4 tabled by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch and Lord Kennedy of Southwark which would remove the condition for the Secretary of State to approve bus franchising powers for non-Mayoral Combined Authorities. We are calling for all areas to be given automatic rights to bus franchising powers. The decision to gain responsibility for bus franchising should be taken locally, based on robust evidence, and taking into account the needs of passengers, local residents and other circumstances, such as the performance of local bus markets. The requirement for the Secretary of State's approval for non-Mayoral Combined Authorities for franchising is counter to the principles of devolution, which is why we are calling for this condition to be removed.

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Bus Services Bill, House of Lords, Report Stage, Wednesday 12 October


House of Lords, Committee Stage, Wednesday 20 July

Key messages

  • We support Lord Kennedy of Southwark and Baroness Randerson in their intention to oppose Clause 21 of the Bus Services Bill. Clause 21 prevents local authorities from forming a company for the purpose of providing a local bus service. This would remove powers granted to councils under the 2011 Localism Act and associated General Power of Competence Provisions. Councils should continue to be allowed to form companies which are able to compete either in the open market place or for council contracts if they are able to offer a better service and value-for-money for bus users. 
  • We support Amendment 127A tabled by Baroness Randerson, which calls for the Bus Services Operators Grant to be automatically devolved to local authorities which have franchising powers. This funding could be used to improve bus services for residents, and should automatically come to all local authorities, not just Mayoral Combined Authorities. It will be crucial these extra powers are accompanied by sustainable and long term funding to ensure that local authorities are able to exercise them effectively.

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Bus Services Bill, House of Lords, Committee Stage, Wednesday 20 July


Second Day Committee Stage debate. House of Lords, Monday 4 July

Key messages

  • We support Amendments 21, 38, 39 and 40 to Clause 4 tabled by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch, Lord Kennedy of Southwark and Baroness Randerson which would remove the condition for the Secretary of State to approve bus franchising powers for non-Mayoral Combined Authorities. We are calling for all areas to be given automatic rights to bus franchising powers. The decision to gain responsibility for bus franchising should be taken locally, based on robust evidence, and taking into account the needs of passengers, local residents and other circumstances, such as the performance of local bus markets. The requirement for the Secretary of State's approval for non-Mayoral Combined Authorities for franchising is counter to the principles of devolution, which is why we are calling for this condition to be removed.
  • We support Amendment 22 tabled by Lord Bradley to Clause 4, which seeks to ensure a Passenger Transport Executive could enter into a local service contract with operators once the Integrated Transport Authority or combined authority had decided to implement a franchising scheme.
  • We oppose Amendment 35 tabled by Earl Attlee, to amend Clause 4 to require franchising authorities to take account of compensation payments to bus operators. The Government do not anticipate compensation being required if a franchising authority follows the process as set out in the Bill and if they are acting in the interests of local people and bus users. The payment of any compensation would increase costs for the franchising authority and could lead to additional costs and/or poorer service for local residents and passengers.

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The Bus Services Bill House of Lords, Committee stage, Monday 4 July 2016


House of Lords, Committee Stage, Wednesday 29 June

Key messages

  • We support Amendment 5 by Lord Bradley to Clause 1 which extends the criteria for an advanced quality partnership scheme to protect the current quality of services for passengers. We support Amendments 21, 38, 39 and 40 to Clause 4 tabled by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch, Lord Kennedy of Southwark and Baroness Randerson which would remove the condition for the Secretary of State to approve bus franchising powers for non-Mayoral Combined Authorities.
  • We are calling for all areas to be given automatic rights to bus franchising powers. The decision to gain responsibility for bus franchising should be taken locally, based on robust evidence, and taking into account the needs of passengers, local residents and other circumstances, such as the performance of local bus markets. The requirement for the Secretary of State's approval for non-Mayoral Combined Authorities for franchising is counter to the principles of devolution, which is why we are calling for this condition to be removed.
  • We support Amendment 22 tabled by Lord Bradley to Clause 4, which seeks to ensure a Passenger Transport Executive could enter into a local service contract with operators once the Integrated Transport Authority or combined authority had decided to implement a franchising scheme.

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The Bus Services Bill House of Lords, Committee stage, Wednesday 29 June 2016


House of Lords, Second Reading 8 June 2016

Key messages

  • Bus franchising:  All areas should be given automatic rights to bus franchising powers, not just Mayoral Combined Authorities. The requirement for the Secretary of State for Transport's approval for non-Mayoral Combined Authorities for franchising is counter to the principles of devolution. Therefore, we are calling for the requirement for Secretary of State approval of bus franchising powers to be removed from the Bill, and for bus franchising decisions to be made locally.
  • Advanced Quality Partnership and Enhance Partnership Schemes: Advanced Quality Partnership Schemes (AQP scheme) build on the existing Quality Partnership scheme arrangements. Under an AQP scheme, a local transport authority can introduce bus improvement measures when a scheme is introduced instead of being restricted to providing new infrastructure. We are supportive of the development and creation of new and existing partnership schemes. However, we want to ensure these schemes are a practical option for councils and sufficient support is provided by commercial bus operators.
  • Open Data: We are supportive of the Bill's proposals on open data, which will provide more accurate door-to-door journey planning across England. It should lead to better information services that will make bus travel more attractive to local people.
  • Other reforms, including funding: We would like the Government to pursue, in parallel with the Bill, other measures to promote bus services. This includes fully funding the national concessionary fares scheme, devolving Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) to all areas and implementing local authority enforcement powers for moving traffic violations. Supporting more councils to adopt Workplace Parking Levy schemes will also help to reduce congestion and attract an improved bus offer from operators.

Download the full briefing:
The Bus Services Bill House of Lords, Second Reading 8 June 2016

 

22 November 2016