Councillors instruct Nexus to begin a formal consultation on a proposal for a Quality Contract Scheme and claim it will save taxpayers £70m

Councillors in Tyne & Wear have taken the unprecedented step of launching a formal consultation on a proposed Quality Contract Scheme, which would enable them to take control of the region’s bus services.

Nexus, the region’s passenger transport executive, has drawn up detailed plans for Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority to reverse more than a quarter of a century of deregulated bus operation – even including possible vehicle branding (pictured) – and was last week instructed to consult on them over the next 14 weeks.

Bus operators are being invited to develop a revised partnership offer as an alternative. However, Cllr David Wood, chair of the ITA, said the QCS would offer the benefits of simple fares, cheaper tickets for young people, universal smartcard travel and a single source of customer information. “This is an important step by the ITA which has the potential to transform local bus services,” said Wood. “We estimate that to provide this level of service in today’s deregulated bus market could cost the taxpayer at least £70m more than if a QCS is introduced.

“If we don’t take action now to re-invest more of the profit buses make, widespread cuts are inevitable from 2015, hitting families, bus company staff and the vulnerable hardest.”

Bus operators oppose the move. Kevin Carr, managing director of Go North East said: “The desire for a QCS isn’t being driven by a need to make things better for passengers, but by a need for the ITA to balance its books.

“In the House of Commons last month, transport minister Norman Baker told Newcastle East MP Nick Brown that his advice to Tyne and Wear was to pursue partnership working with bus operators and to try to secure the best possible outcome for the bus passenger. The ITA seems to be ignoring that advice.”

 

Related stories can be found inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport:

 

Nexus reveals roadmap for regulated network
Two years from now the Tyne & Wear PTE could be on the verge of completing the introduction of the UK’s first Quality Contract Scheme

Warning over adoption of ‘do nothing’ scenario
Doomsday-style cuts would result without action being taken

Zonal fares for QCS scheme
Nexus reveals more details about planned QCS network

Neighbours to get a say on QCS
Dialogue to be created with neighbouring counties

 

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