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Bus Service Operators

Volume 592: debated on Thursday 5 February 2015

My noble Friend, the Minister of State for Transport (Baroness Kramer), has made the following ministerial statement: in March 2014 the Government consulted on their implementation of the four remedies proposed by the Competition Commission recommending changes to the existing rules for the registration of local bus services with the Traffic Commissioner. The four remedies formed part of a much wider series of recommendations made by the Competition Commission following its two year “Local bus services market investigation”, which concluded in December 2011.

I am today, 5 February 2015, announcing that following a review of the responses to the consultation I have decided to progress only one of the four remedies—the 14-day pre-notification period for local transport authorities. While this only constitutes a partial implementation of the Competition Commission’s recommendations in this particular area, this follows full consideration of the consultation responses and the cost-benefit analysis undertaken as part of the legislative process.

The implementation of the 14-day pre-notification period for local authorities makes a material contribution towards meeting the Competition Commission’s concerns in a way that builds on Government policy to promote partnership working between operators and local authorities. New entrants would have at least 14 days to operate before a reaction from the incumbent(s) as the information would be kept confidential. As identified by the Competition Commission, the extra visibility to local authorities should also discourage anti-competitive reactions by an incumbent.

The consultation also sought views on the Department’s ambition to move to a fully electronic bus registration system over the next 2-3 years and invited views on how to make this happen. This will bring benefits not only to operators and local authorities in terms of reduced administrative costs and ease of updating local travel information, but also to passengers in terms of an improvement in completeness and timeliness of bus route/timetable information. There was broad support for this aim and so a move to a fully digital bus registration system will be progressed. We will be engaging with key players over the next few months to establish the best way to make this happen.

A summary of responses and the Government position has been published on and has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.