The Tyne & Wear PTE believes that around 20% of bus users will see the cost of travel increase should it proceed with plans for a Quality Contract

Bus users in Tyne & Wear could see fares increase if plans by Nexus, the local PTE, for the introduction of Quality Contracts are introduced.

The PTE admitted at a meeting of the Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority last week that 20% of bus users would face higher fares if moves to increase industry regulation were realised.

Nexus adds that the remaining passengers in the region would pay bus fares that are “broadly in line with current levels (within 3% of the current price for a single/day ticket or within 5% for a season ticket)”.

More details of the QC plans were also released at last week’s meeting. Nexus says there would be 22 separate contracts, varying in size and requiring from 10 to 95 vehicles. All of the contracts would be tendered at the same time and run for either five years (three years plus a two year extension) or 10 years (seven years plus a three-year extension). Some services would extend into neighbouring Northumberland and Durham.

Fares would also be restructured with the introduction of a zonal fares arrangement. Bus fares would also be harmonised with those on the Tyne & Wear Metro light rail system which would be integrated into the new network.

The PTE anticipates that the introduction of QCs will end the long term decline in bus patronage, but it does not expect that growth in the market will take place overnight. “The net impact is a patronage and revenue neutral position,” it adds.

Nexus also concedes that Passenger Focus has shown bus passengers in Tyne & Wear have the highest levels of bus satisfaction in the country but says the bus network needs to attract new passengers. The PTE continues: “Having a very happy customer is great, but if they are the only customer left on the bus then we have a problem!”

However, alongside its partnership approach, Nexus is continuing to work with the North East Bus Operators’ Association on an option for an operator-led partnership approach. Director general Bernard Garner said the work had so far “fallen short of expectations”, though it was possible further work could deliver a partnership “that is satisfactory to all parties”.

 

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