Bus franchising offered as part of city region agreement

first_sheffieldCould Sheffield franchise its bus network?


The government has confirmed plans for a devolution deal with the Sheffield City Region that once again places the regulation of bus services in the spotlight.

The deal, signed by chancellor George Osborne, will see a directly-elected mayor take office in 2017 who will oversee a range of devolved powers, including responsibility for transport.

It will be backed up by an additional annual £30m funding allocation over 30 years to be invested to boost local growth.

As with previous announcements for Greater Manchester and Cornwall, the agreement signed by Osborne, the Combined Authority and local councillors and business leaders, places emphasis on the option to franchise buses. This seems to be at odds with the existing partnership arrangements that have been put in place in Sheffield and Rotherham in recent years.

“The directly elected mayor of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority will by 2017 exercise functions… for the franchising of bus services in the area of the Combined Authority, subject to local consultation,” notes the document.

“This will be enabled through a specific Buses Bill, to be introduced during the first Parliamentary session, which will provide for the necessary functions to be devolved.”

It adds that the introduction of franchising would facilitate the roll-out of smart ticketing across all modes of transport in the City Region, working as part of Transport for the North.

“This proposal marks the next step on our devolution journey and will enable local leaders to make bigger and better local decisions,” said Sir Stephen Houghton, chair of the Combined Authority.

This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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