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Where now for local bus services?

Posted on by Stuart Wrigley

Come along to our meeting next Friday at LGA House to discuss the question “Where now for local bus services?” with a panel representing central and local government and major bus operators.

    • Cllr Shona Johnstone, Cambridgeshire County Council and LGA Economy & Transport Board
    • Tracy Jessop, Norfolk County Council and Chair of the Association of Transport Co-ordinating Officers
    • Anthony Ferguson, Head of Buses Division, Department for Transport
    • Ian Morgan, Trent Barton Buses & Chair of the Confederation of Passenger Transport
    • Mark Yexley, Arriva Buses & President Elect of the Confederation of Passenger Transport
    • Ben Colson, Managing Director Norfolk Green, Bus Operator of the year 2010

Following the investigation into the market for local bus services by the Competition Commission and the Transport Select Committee Inquiry into Bus Services after the Spending Review, we  hope that this debate will lead to some innovative thinking on the best ways in which bus operators and local authorities can work together within current legislation to deliver high quality bus services and ensure maximum impact from public funding and support.

The debate will be facilitated by Transport Consultant, Garth Goddard. If you want to have an opportunity to contribute to the debate, please send your questions in advance to the Secretary, Stuart Wrigley



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We’re on Twitter

Posted on by Richard Davies

You can now follow us on Twitter, simply goto http://twitter.com/ptconsortium and click follow.

If you’d like to know more about Twitter, checkout our twitter guide

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Where now for local bus services? PTC Jan 2012 Meeting

Posted on by Richard Davies

LGA Public Transport Consortium January 2012 Meeting
Friday 20 January 2012 at Local Government House, Smith Square, Westminster

The outline agenda will be as follows:
10.30-11.20 Business Meeting
11.20-11.30 Break
11.30–13.00 Where now for local bus services? A panel discussion

The investigation into the market for local bus services by the Competition Commission and the Transport Select Committee Inquiry into Bus Services after the Spending Review do not seem to have contributed many new ideas about local bus services. Hence, it seems an appropriate time to pose the question with a panel discussion looking at the future for local bus services and best ways for local authorities and operators to work in partnership to make the best use of funding available.

We hope that this debate will lead to some innovative thinking on the best ways in which bus operators and local authorities can work together within current legislation to deliver high quality bus services and ensure maximum impact from public funding and support.

The panel will bring together representatives of the public and private sector to set out their views and offer their answers to this challenging question:

Cllr Shona Johnstone: Cambridgeshire County Council and LGA Economy & Transport Board
Tracy Jessop: Norfolk County Council and Chair of the Association of Transport Co-ordinating Officers
Anthony Ferguson: Head of Buses Division, Department for Transport
Ian Morgan: Chair of the Confederation of Passenger Transport
Mark Yexley: President Elect of the Confederation of Passenger Transport
Ben Colson: Managing Director Norfolk Green, Bus Operator of the year 2010

Further information and a detailed agenda and papers for the business meeting will be circulated nearer the time and I hope that it will be convenient for you to attend. I should be pleased if you could let me know if there are any specific questions that you would like to pose to the panel.

And finally…may I take this opportunity of thanking you all for your support for the Consortium during 2011 and wish you all the very best for a peaceful Christmas and a successful New Year in 2012.

Kind regards

Stuart Wrigley

LGA Public Transport Consortium

01253 727950 – 07799 767347

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Westminster Hall Debate on Future of Rural Bus Funding

Posted on by Stuart Wrigley

Notice from Tracy Jessop, Assistant Director Travel and Transport Services at Norfolk County Council and Vice Chair of ATCO:

There was an interesting debate in Westminster Hall yesterday, 11 October, on “The Future of Rural Bus Funding”. The debate was called for by a Norfolk MP on the back of the Norfolk “Fair Fares” campaign to highlight the funding issues in public transport, and in particular the shortfall in concessionary fares funding.
My Leader wrote to over 30 councils last week, to ask them to brief their MPs and rally some support, as well as to support the e-petition.

Over 30 MPs attended, including MPs from Norfolk, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Suffolk, Northumberland, Isle of Wight, Lancashire and Cumbria plus others that I didn’t catch.

I’ve highlighted the key parts of the debate below, but would draw your attention to Norman Baker’s response, who was given 15 minutes at the end to answer the many queries raised. If you want to view the debate you can follow this link – it lasts for 90 minutes


Key points from the debate
• Very well attended by more than 30 MPs – unusual, as normally an audience of 12 or so for this type of thing – and there was a big debate on Health at the same time in the Commons
• Overwhelming sense of the need to protect rural areas to promote access, but also to support economic growth and reduce congestion
• Recognition that the impacts of funding shortfalls in concessionary fares are having a negative impact on services provided for all people, as the money available to support the tendered network reduces
• Calls for overview of the concession fares scheme – reinforced by over 14 councils that people would be prepared to pay something to travel or pay for their card
• Lots of examples given by MPs about particular issues in their patch – consistent message was a need for local solutions and more freedom and flexibility from government about how to use the funding available
Key points from Norman Baker’s response
• The free bus pass stays [for this parliament]
• Government accepts there is a problem with funding of concessions for some areas (this is a major change in tact – has always said “local decisions” up till now)
• DfT wrote to DCLG in July to point out the particular problems that exist for Norfolk. DCLG have responded that they believe the new Business Rates Retention will address our concerns (out to consultation now, until end Oct) (but this will only be if they get the baseline funding correct)
Key plus points
• Positive lively debate, common issues for many rural councils – Norfolk seen as very proactive on this issue but would be helpful if affected councils got more active and involved
• Whilst Business Rates Retention might help in the long-term (from 2014), it doesn’t give us any help in the short-term and we need the shortfall addressed for the next 2 years
• Without any immediate intervention, councils will still have high shortfalls in each of the next 2 years, which will decimate the tendered network and we may never be able to recover from it.
• People are signing the petition – but let’s keep the pressure on       www.norfolk.gov.uk/fairfares   to make a major impact and get the government to rethink. There are over 4,000 signatures in hand, in addition to the e-petition.

It’s very important that councils understand the impacts of the proposals about Business Rates Retention, which includes a technical note on how they might address the concession fares relative needs formula. This extract was from a recent DfT note to point you in the right direction for the consultation paperwork:
DCLG are currently out to consultation on the broad options for a new way of funding local government based on business rates retention. The consultation can be found at the following link            http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/resourcereviewbusinessrates

and Question 1 and 2 on page 21 are pertinent to how 2012/13 formula grant may be used as the basis for constructing the baseline for 2013./14, the proposed first year of the new scheme.
On 19 August DCLG also published eight supporting technical papers concerning the consultation, and consideration of whether to review the relative needs formulae for concessionary travel is discussed on page 23 and 24 of paper 1 “Establishing the baseline” at the following link:


You should send your consultation response to


before 24th October, when the consultation closes.

Tracy Jessop
Assistant Director Travel and Transport Services
Environment, Transport and Development


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Concessionary travel campaign for fair funding

Posted on by Stuart Wrigley

Norfolk County Council launches a petition on concessionary bus fare shortfall.

A campaign backed by councillors, businesses, local bus operators and MPs to persuade the Government to fairly fund the concessionary bus scheme in Norfolk has been launched by Norfolk County Council today , Monday 26 September.

Norfolk faces a £4.5 million shortfall in funding for the scheme and the gap is putting extreme pressure on maintaining rural bus services. The costs of providing the minimum scheme far outstrip resources allocated by the Government, and in light of the shortfall, Norfolk County Council leaders have decided to mount a campaign during the Autumn calling for ‘Fair Fares’ for Norfolk.

The Fairs Fare online petition can be accessed via either Norfolk County Council’s website www.norfolk.gov.uk or


Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis has also secured a Westminster Hall debate on rural buses on Tuesday October 11 to help highlight the county’s plight.

PTC members might like to encourage their own MPs to contribute to this debate, to reinforce the position nationally.

At the annual meeting on 21 October, consortium members will also be able to press their views on this issue with representatives of DCLG and DfT in a question and answer session on the local government finance settlement and its implications for concessionary travel funding in 2012-13.

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Annual General Meeting

Posted on by Stuart Wrigley

The annual general meeting of the Consortium will take place on Friday 21 October 2011 at Local Government House, Smith Square, Westminster, commencing with coffee and networking from 9.45am

Business meeting at 10.15 – 11.00

The business agenda will include the appointment of the Chair and Vice Chairs for 2011-12, as well as the appointment of the Executive.

Presently the PTC Chair is Councillor David Rowlands (Conservative) of Buckinghamshire County Council, with Vice Chair Councillor Pat Hockey (Liberal Democrat) of South Gloucestershire Council. The position of Labour Vice Chair is currently vacant.

Nominations for these positions should be forwarded to the secretary by Monday 17 October 2011.  


DCLG and DfT officers will be attending to discuss the local government finance settlement and its implications for concessionary travel funding in 2012-13 


 Panel Presentations and Discussion

 Making best use of new technology for public transport 

  • Is it the key to better and more efficient bus services, or an expensive gimmick?
  • What should local authorities do to respond to developments in technology?

A panel of speakers will set out their views on the practical applications of new technology and discuss with members the best solutions for transport authorities to promote with their local public transport operators.

Further details from the Secretary, Stuart Wrigley 


01253 727950 or 07799 767347


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Nottinghamshire County Council Park & Ride Schemes

Posted on by Richard Davies

Courtesy of Nottinghamshire County Council

Pocket park and ride sites help to cut congestion and reduce carbon emissions. We operate sites in Nottinghamshire at the following locations:

In addition, there are larger park and ride sites in and around Nottingham.

Using a park and ride site can help you:

  • Avoid having to find a parking space at work
  • Relax on your journey – why not read a book, listen to your iPod or even prepare for that important meeting!
  • Ease past the traffic jams by using bus lanes.


The Cotgrave pocket park and ride site offers 33 parking spaces, in the car park of Cotgrave Welfare. You can park for free at the site from 7am until 7pm, and then catch a bus into West Bridgford or Nottingham from the nearby stop.

More details:


The Stragglethorpe pocket park and ride site operates from the car park of Shepherds restaurant. It is available from 7am until midnight each day, with regular buses into West Bridgford and Nottingham.

£40,000 has been spent on improvements to the site, which has paid for an upgrade to the CCTV system, a new bus shelter and a new electronic display board. This means that you can leave your car in safety and relax on the bus to work.

More details:

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National Express joins subsidy cuts fight

Posted on by Richard Davies

Article from ft.com 28/8/11

National Express has formed an unusual alliance with transport campaigners as it puts pressure on the government to reverse the abolition of coach fare subsidies for the elderly and disabled.

Buried in the small print of the comprehensive spending review last year was the withdrawal of a £50m a year grant that halves the price of coach tickets for the elderly and disabled.

The change comes into effect on October 31 to the consternation of Britain’s biggest coach operator, the Campaign for Better Transport, Disability Alliance and Age UK. They contend that the grant was abolished without serious consultation or consideration for the ramifications of the decision.

They argue that the abolition of the subsidy will force some routes to close as they become economically unviable, increasing the isolation of rural communities as well as the elderly and disabled.

It will also put pressure on household budgets, already strained by rising fuel prices and a 13 per cent rise in some rail fares from next January.

National Express is the biggest corporate recipient of the subsidy, with at least 30 per cent of passengers receiving the grant on 18 routes. The bus and coach operator has written to the Department for Transport as well as to MPs in the most affected communities to ask for an 11th-hour reversal of the decision.

Axing the subsidy will save the government just £18m to £20m a year, campaigners say. The grant was introduced by Labour in 2003 and has proved hugely popular, with 2.9m concessionary journeys made on National Express coaches alone in the past year.

Sophie Allain of the Campaign for Better Transport said: “This has been a hasty and poorly assessed decision, which is bad news for older and disabled bus passengers but also threatens to tip a number of coach routes into decline and closure, especially in rural and disadvantaged areas.”

Read full article at ft.com

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Cuts to bus services threaten the most vulnerable say MPs

Posted on by Richard Davies

11 August 2011

Extensive cuts to rural, evening and weekend bus services are damaging the ability of many people – especially the old, young or disabled – to participate in employment, education or voluntary work and to access vital services such as healthcare and retail facilities, say MPs.

In a review of England’s bus services (outside London) after the Spending Review, the cross-party Transport Committee warns that even deeper cuts in bus services are likely in 2012–13, as local authorities struggle to deal with budgetary reductions, and calls for the concessionary travel scheme to be preserved so that the elderly and disabled continue to enjoy free bus travel.

The committee also concludes that the concessionary fares scheme was “discriminatory” because it did not apply to most community transport providers – usually independent charities that provide transport such as dial-a-ride bus services. MPs call on ministers to legislate to permit the use of the concessionary pass on a wider range of community transport services.

Launching the report, Louise Ellman, chair of the Committee said, “The Government claims it wants to see better bus services with many more smartcard–enabled journeys. Yet, following the Government’s Spending Review, we have seen a significant number of bus services withdrawn around the country and there is every indication that fares are set to rise well above the rate of inflation in some areas.

“We know that over 70% of local authorities have moved rapidly to reduce funding for supported bus services, forcing most operators to withdraw services or push up fares – or both – as the English bus industry adjusts to the greatest financial challenge it has faced for a generation.

“For the most part it is rural, evening and Sunday services that are most affected, although in some areas every scrap of funding has been withdrawn from subsidised bus services. In some cases, whole sections of the bus network have been scaled back with little or no proper consultation.”

The committee warns ministers they cannot wash their hands of all responsibility for local bus services. It calls on the Department for Transport to monitor the extent of service cutbacks made this year and to review service provision again after BSOG (Bus Service Operator Grant) grant cuts take effect in 2012 – 13* so that it can analyse and draw conclusions about  the wider costs and benefits of its policy changes to the country as a whole.

Reflecting the greater emphasis being given to devolved decision making, the committee also calls on the Local Government Association to identify and disseminate information about good and bad practice in the delivery of cost effective, flexible services including community transport and/or area-based transport integration.

MPs call on local authorities and commercial operators to consult more widely where services are being changed. They call on the LGA to work with Passenger Focus to provide guidance to all local authorities about how to consult meaningfully with resident and service users about proposals to change local bus services.


Buses are the most available and frequently used mode of public transport in England, carrying two thirds of all passenger journeys . In the 2010 Spending Review the Government made three decision that impact funding available for the English bus industry: local authority revenue expenditure was cut this year by 28%; changes were made to the DfT’s formula for concessionary fare reimbursements; and the Bus Service Operators Grant was cut by 20%from 2012-13.

At least 1,700 community transport organisations operate in England. The concessionary fares scheme does not apply to most community transport providers, although some local authorities do permit this at their discretion. Currently only registered services run by community transport operators under a “section 22” permit, usually demand-responsive bus services, are eligible for the scheme. The Committee heard evidence that the scheme should be extended to cover other community transport operators, particularly dial-a-ride and other section 19 services.

Image: iStock

Article: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/transport-committee/news/bus-report/

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European Project – Ad Personam

Posted on by Richard Davies

Between 2008 and 2010 Lancashire County Council took part in a European Project called Ad Personam. This project was a direct marketing campaign for public transport and was aimed at the car commuter market to encourage the trial and take up of bus services in the Lancaster area of the County. The brochure describes the steps to be taken if you would like to become a follower city and the results that were achieved in all partners’ cities.

The full brochure is available for download (PDF, 9.6MB)

For further information, contact Andrew Varley on 01772 533336 or andrew.varley@lancashire.gov.uk






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