PTE examines Quality Contracts alongside bus partnerships.

Members of the Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority were this week poised to approve further work on plans for Quality Contracts for the region’s bus network this week.
It follows in the wake of the publication of new evidence by the Competition Commission last month, as part of its market inquiry into local bus services. The CC says that bus operators Arriva and Go North East acted to limit competition (PT019).

Nexus, the Tyne & Wear PTE, proposes that it continue working on plans for QCs, while also investigating voluntary partnership proposals from local bus operators. It intends to examine whether these could deliver the same benefits of a QC.

It is anticipated that a QC scheme would take around 34 months to implement and Nexus adds that it would cost in the region of £600,000 to define and develop proposals.
It says that this would be funded from existing resources and that the PTE would be able to draw on its experience of letting the operating contract for the Tyne & Wear Metro. It also warns that legal costs could account for a significant proportion of total project development costs.

In a paper to ITA members, Nexus director general Bernard Garner said that the PTE has completed a feasibility study into the potential for a QC scheme.

He continued: “The summary findings are that a scheme would deliver significant benefits for local people, is more likely to achieve the ITA’s policies than other delivery methods, and would be more financially sustainable at a time of budget pressures on the ITA.”

Garner added that a number of Voluntary Partnership Schemes already exist within the Nexus area and that significant efforts would be directed towards developing these and new partnerships alongside QCs.

He also said that the draft QC scheme would be presented to ITA members during 2012. “At which point the ITA would be able to compare it against progress made in the development bus partnerships and determine the appropriate course of action to follow,” Garner added.

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