Mistral responds to UK Bus Summit 2016 keynote address by Andrew Jones MP
Bus Minister Andrew Jones delivered the keynote address at the UK Bus Summit at the QEII Conference Centre in Westminster, London on Thursday, February 11.
You can access a transcript of Mr Jones’ speech here.
Below is the response of Steve Low, Chief Operating Officer for Mistral Bus and Coach, to the keynote speech.
Andrew Jones’ MP, speech at the UK Bus Summit was trailed as being the first real incite into the content of the proposed Buses Bill.
In essence, the speech does not put any meat on the bones and will leave many operators wondering what ‘devil will live in the detail’ when the full Bill comes before Parliament later this year.
What is exceptionally encouraging is that the whole tone of the speech sets out the Government’s support for the bus industry as a whole and recognises that all is not broken and requiring major overhaul.
In fact, the opening remarks emphasise the positive impact that the bus can have on society and the environment in general; ‘…help(ing) people get to the shops and to work, boosting our economy ….and reducing congestion and air pollution (for) our environment’.
However, as illustrated in the recent KPMG report, the number of bus passengers has shown a general decline since deregulation and the Government now wants to move to enable the industry to reverse that decline and stimulate future growth.
Mr Jones was at pains to point out that ‘one size does not fit all’ and that the future of local bus services will vary according to the local conditions and stakeholders in each area.
And it is here that the detail is not clear.
There is support for voluntary partnerships, a restructuring of the hurdles that have to be jumped over to have a Quality Partnership, and an introduction of the dreaded ‘franchising’ word.
However, no detail has yet been revealed on how any franchise would be implemented and no discussion on cost or structure – just a commitment to allow Local Areas to take more control of local services if they want to.
The industry has had that framework since the Transport Act of 2000 so what is really changing is hard to ascertain.
Watch this space for future announcements seems to be the message, as this speech in itself answers few questions.
– Steve Low, Chief Operating Officer for Mistral Bus and Coach
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