QCS Board comes out against bus franchising proposals for Tyne & Wear.. but George Osborne offers region bus powers in new devolution deal

 

verdict

 

The North East of England has received mixed messages about the future of its local bus services in the past fortnight.

This week the Quality Contract Scheme Board announced its verdict on plans to introduce bus franchising in Tyne & Wear from Nexus, the transport executive for the North East Combined Authority. The three-man Board (pictured above during evidence sessions last July) found that the QCS proposals from Nexus failed three out of the five required public interest tests.

“We are extremely disappointed,” said Tobyn Hughes, managing director of Nexus. “We simply disagree with many of the Board’s conclusions, and we will be discussing next steps with the North East Combined Authority.”

It is unlikely to be the end of the battle over bus franchising. On October 23 chancellor George Osborne offered the possibility of a new route to achieving this ambition when he signed a devolution deal with NECA. As with previous deals with Greater Manchester, Cornwall and Sheffield, it includes “responsibility for franchised bus services” via the forthcoming Buses Bill.

Bus operators in Tyne & Wear welcomed the QCS Board’s verdict, but there is concern about the chancellor’s interventions. Speaking at this week’s CPT Conference in Scotland, Stagecoach chief executive
Martin Griffiths said the UK had a “fantastic” transport minister, but “my slight problem is that I don’t know how much control he’s got over transport policy”.

 

Related coverage in the latest issue of Passenger Transport:

 

QCS Board critical of Nexus and operators
Nexus plans to introduce a Quality Contract Scheme in Tyne & Wear do not meet three of the five public interest tests according to the QCS Board

 

This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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