Department for Transport asks KPMG to consider if franchising might be an appropriate model for buses, and whether candidate locations exist

 

Nexus is seeking to take control of bus services in the North East

 

The government is seeking to enhance its understanding of bus market dynamics in response to growing interest in regulatory reforms, including franchising.

With a growing number of regions expressing interest in greater regulatory control over bus services, including the North East and Greater Manchester, the Department for Transport this month launched a wide-ranging review of England’s bus market outside London.

Consultancy KPMG has been appointed to assist investigations into six key questions. The aim is to allow ministers to gain an understanding of the costs and benefits, and commercial consequences, of a more ‘mosaic’ pattern of regulatory models emerging in the bus network.

The study will consider under what circumstances a change in the current deregulated model for bus networks outside London would be a better option for bus users and taxpayers, and whether there are locations where such circumstances currently exist. It will also consider the impact that change in some areas might have on bus networks elsewhere.

KPMG expects to supply ministers with a progress report on the market study in early March with a final report to be submitted by the end of June, after May’s general election.

Last November transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, told a House of Commons debate on local bus services that he favoured a “mosaic of transport systems”.

“What is applicable in certain areas will not be applicable in others,” he said. “It is important not to get obsessed with one-size-fits-all regulation; a common-sense approach is best.”

Labour has also expressed support for greater regulation.

 

This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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