Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum by the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (Bus 10A)

  I am now in a position to submit the replies from Arriva, First and Stagecoach to the supplementary questions raised by the Committee after the oral evidence session. I apologise for the slight delay.

1.   Details of the age profile of the bus fleet of the three operators in London (Excluding Routemasters) and outside London (with regards Q15). Also, confirmation of whether anywhere else in the country will be 100 per cent low floor by 2005 (as intended for London excluding Routemasters).
FirstDetails of the age profile of the First fleet, by company, excluding Routemasters, are attached as Appendix F1. The average age of the whole fleet, excluding Routemasters is 7.94 years. In the last five years, First has invested over £300 million in new buses, the vast majority of which are fully accessible, low floor vehicles. At the present, however, the group does not anticipate that any location will have 100 per cent fully low floor vehicles by 2005. We will comply with national requirements on this issue.
ArrivaArriva's average fleet age for buses outside London is 7.2 years. In London, the average age including Routemasters is 10.4 and excluding Routemasters is 6.7 years. The number of low-floor buses continues to increase. The investment in new buses by Arriva has been over £190 million in the last four years. Low-floor bus design has been available for a comparatively short time with the result that those companies who invested consistently, before low floor buses were the norm, have substantial fleets of vehicles with several more years to operate.

Arriva has introduced usually low-floor buses on a single route or group of routes from a depot. As a result, the whole of a route, area or network will be fully low-floor in those areas. Arriva's use of low-floor buses covers all its operating subsidiaries; we can refer to a number of areas where low-floor buses now represent a large percentage of our operations (in addition to the point about a route or area being converted as a whole). Over 50 per cent of Arriva's buses on Merseyside, 47 per cent in Telford and 60 per cent in Harlow are low-floor, for example. In the North-East, where the average fleet age is seven years, between 50 and 55 per cent of buses are low-floor, including 59 per cent of Arriva's buses in Tyne and Wear and 60 per cent in Stockton.
StagecoachThe Company's fleet age profile in London is as follows:

    London (excluding Routemasters)—1.87 years

    London (including Routemasters)—3.22 years

As the Committee will be aware, Transport for London requires that buses operating its contracts shall be less than five years old, (with the exception of Routemasters). The contracts operated by Stagecoach in the capital have been largely awarded within the last two years, which accounts for the relatively young fleet age.

The Company's fleet age profile in the rest of the UK is an average 7.22 years, which when taken together with the London profile, is significantly within the overall 10 Year Plan target of eight years.

The Committee will also be aware that the economic life of larger PCVs is normally around 16 years.

2.   Details of the increase in companies bidding for bus contracts and evidence of the growth in bids per contract (with regards Q21). The statement by Mr Lockhead appears to contradict the evidence collected by ATCO and reported in their November 2001 report.

FirstWe believe that the ATCO document demonstrates that the number of bids per tender is flat, rather than reducing. An example of an area which has been receiving an increasing number of bids per tender, where First has operations, is in Greater Manchester. The following table appears in the GMPTE Best Value Review published in December 2001 within the Bus Revenue Support Appendices:

YearMean number of bids per tender invitation (GMPTE)

ArrivaWe refer to the W S Atkins work on this.
StagecoachWe do not keep records of the number of contract bids and these are usually maintained by the Local Authorities. Our experience overall, is that bids have been broadly constant for a number of years. However, there are continual local variations and new operators sometimes emerge. More often an existing operator decides to bid in an area, or for types of work that he has not bid before.

3.   Figures for each company on the number of bus kilometres withdrawn, new bus kilometres run and total bus kilometres for the last three years (more of the numbers are easily available) (with regards Q33).

FirstWe have extensively revised our service networks across most of our bus operations over the last two years. This has been a complex exercise, and it is not possible to separate out the number of bus kilometres withdrawn or the new bus kilometres run. However details of the total number of bus kilometres run, by company, over the last three years are attached as Appendix F2.

One of the accusations which have been levelled at the bus industry in recent weeks and months is that changes made to local networks have been at the expense of socially excluded people. This is not correct. First has recently carried out a comprehensive review of the changes that we have made to service networks in three PTE areas over the last two years (West and South Yorkshire and Greater Manchester) and has concluded that the changes have:

—  probably represented the biggest single review of services anywhere in the UK since de-regulation in 1986;

—  achieved simplicity of networks and of fare structures;

—  arrested patronage decline across the Group as a whole and led to patronage growth in specific areas;

—  now been largely implemented and are in fact almost complete in PTE areas;

—  been carried out in full consultation and agreement with Local Authorities and PTEs;

—  not resulted in a significant switch of resources onto main routes

—  left no significant stretches of road uncovered;

—  left few people without a service;

—  been deemed by the PTEs to require relatively little in the way of tender responses;

—  generally benefited, rather than adversely affected, socially excluded groups.
ArrivaWe cannot provide figures at short notice that separately identify additional mileage and withdrawn mileage. We have calculated figures that take out London and the effect of acquisitions and disposals in each year to show the net effect. On this basis, mileage in 2000 was 0.5 per cent below 1999 and in 2001 was 2.7 per cent below 2000.
StagecoachThe most useful data we keep for your purposes is that of the commercial mileage we operate. Tendered mileage is not particularly meaningful since it depends on whether or not the Local Authority has decided to re-let a contract, and whether or not we win it.

Our commercial mileage in each of the last three years, adjusted for acquisitions and disposals of businesses is as follows:

    1998-99—258 million miles

    1999-00—259 million miles—difference + 0.4 per cent

    2000-01—256 million miles—difference—1.32 per cent

    2001-02—253 million miles—difference—1.5 per cent

I am afraid we don't have records readily to hand of the individual increases and decreases which together result in these totals.

4.   Details of the number of quality partnership routes currently operated by each company, the number under negotiation and the number anticipated to be in place by 2005. In addition, please provide details of the total number of routes run by each company (with regards Q35).

FirstWe have "Umbrella" QP agreements with most local authorities where we operate outside London, dating back to 1997. These cover well over half of our UK bus turnover outside London. They tend to be general and aspirational in nature. We have 88 corridor QP agreements in operation, and the number of corridor agreements, by company is attached. The attachment also shows that we have a further 83 corridor agreements under negotiation, of which we expect 80 to be fully in place by 2005. At the present time there are no Statutory QPs in place, and local authorities seem to be reluctant to progress them.
ArrivaIgnoring the Traveline project, which affects all Arriva companies, we currently have 65 quality partnerships in place or at an advanced stage of negotiation. We cannot anticipate the number that will be in place by 2005. We remain committed to the development of further partnerships.

The Quality Partnerships vary between small schemes affecting individual parts of single routes to county-wide partnerships designed to create a framework within which to improve service quality and include the Elite project in Leeds, where the partnership includes West Yorkshire PTE, Leeds City Council, Arriva and First Group.

The number of Quality Partnerships does not relate to the total number of services operated by Arriva. Some schemes cover all the services in an area; some relate to specific individual routes; some relate to part of a substantial number of routes, some relate only to one route, but to the whole length of it; some routes will be affected by more than one partnership. It is not possible to construct a relationship between the number of routes operated and the number of Quality Partnerships that can or should be agreed.
StagecoachAs I indicated in my evidence to the Select Committee, Stagecoach currently has 50 Quality Partnerships in place and a further 32 under negotiation. We would hope that this could be increased to 90 in total, ie one for each of our operating centres.

5.   Details of fines levied on each company (and others if available) by the Traffic Commissioners for failure to meet reliability targets (with regards Q98).

FirstThe Group has appeared before a Traffic Commissioner at Public Inquiry on four occasions in the last three years to answer reliability allegations. The first hearing was in York in 1999 where the company successfully defended allegations that it had failed to operate in accordance with registrations. The second related to operations in Leeds in August 2000. The company was not fined, but was penalised by having a ban imposed on any future new registrations. This ban was lifted when an appeal was submitted, and the company won its appeal to the Transport Tribunal in January 2001.

The third hearing was in Bristol in September 2000. A fine of £262,000 of fuel duty rebate was imposed, and this also was overturned on appeal to the Transport Tribunal in January 2001. The latest hearing related to Devon and Cornwall. It was held in April 2002, and no decision has yet been announced. Only the last hearing has been held after the new Traffic Commissioner reliability targets had been announced.
ArrivaThe reliability of bus services is strongly affected by many matters that are outside the control of operators, notably traffic congestion. Through CPT, operators have been in discussion with the Traffic Commissioners about their latest standards for service reliability, as we are concerned about the extent to which they are realistic and achievable. Only operators are subject to penalties for service unreliability, despite the impact that the action (or inaction) of others may have on services.

The flexibility for Traffic Commissioners to levy fines for failure to operate services in accordance with registered timetables was increased by the Transport Act 2000. Prior to this date, the Commissioners were more likely to consider other penalties, such as a ban on new service registrations or the cancellation of existing registrations.

Arriva was fined £59,000 in the North-East in 2000 and £149,200 in the North West in 2002. The latter case primarily related to problems in Liverpool in 2001. Arriva has introduced service reliability targets and monitoring procedures in an attempt to improve reliability. We regularly raise problems with local authorities throughout its operating area. Service reliability figures are reviewed at a senior level in each Arriva subsidiary and at a group level. Like all bus companies, we aim to operate the most reliable service that we can, given the traffic conditions in specific areas.
StagecoachThe details of Traffic Commissioners' Public Inquiries to which this Company has been called in order to deal with service reliability issues is set out below.

Stagecoach Group plc Traffic Commissioners' Fines
DateLocation £ Fine
Jul-99South Oxfordshire* 97,000

The cases marked * were ones in which the Company was experiencing acute staff shortages, a situation which has now been significantly improved in the areas concerned.

6.   Details of the bus companies' research regarding consumer demand elasticities for service frequency, reliability, punctuality and fare levels referred to particularly in Q103.

FirstWe have not carried out any market research specifically into demand elasticities. However, we do carry out regular, and ongoing, research into customer perceptions of our services through our Customer First programme. When this programme was established in 1997, we did some qualitative research with bus users (and with bus drivers) to investigate the factors that "drive" satisfaction, and the relative importance that customers attach to each of the factors. Based on the first two months' data, some regression analysis was carried out to help us understand how each item we were measuring related to overall satisfaction. From this we derived the weights shown in the attached file. These show, for example, that reliability and frequency of service are the most important issues to our customers, and that routing of services and fares are much less important.
ArrivaWe have conducted no specific research on elasticities and use industry standards.
StagecoachWe generally use an elasticity of -0.3 when computing the impact of fares revisions. However, this needs to be treated with caution, and account must be taken of the length of time since fares were last increased, the scale of the increase and the market segments affected.

In the case of frequency, reliability and punctuality we tend to use generalised costs and compute door -to- door journey times. In this situation an elasticity of 1.4 is often applied, ie a generalised cost improvement of 10 per cent would be expected to generate a 14 per cent increase in demand.

7.   Whether the companies support the introduction of a number of fixed points during the year for timetable changes, as in the railway industry. If so, how many points would the companies require?

FirstWe support the principle of reducing the number of service change dates during the year, and can see no reason why this could not be brought down to six or eight dates a year. Local circumstances are such that it would not be possible to set national dates. For example, University and school term start and finish dates vary widely throughout the country. We already work with a number of local authorities to minimise the number of dates by local agreement to suit local circumstances, and would wish to continue with this approach. We would therefore be opposed to the imposition of dates at a national level.
ArrivaArriva aims for network stability. Even where services are changed, many trips are unaffected, so that there is limited impact on the vast majority of passengers. We do not change services without proper research, review and publicity.

In many parts of our operating area we have locally-determined schemes that limit the number of times in each year on which services can be changed. Any system that limits the number of times in a year on which services can be changed has to take account of the impact of school terms, seasonal demand, special events, road works or serious traffic disruption, new developments, changes in passenger requirements and measures to improve reliability to take account of changes in traffic congestion, with specific regard to Traffic Commissioner service reliability standards.

We believe that it would not be appropriate to have a national standard for the number of occasions in a year on which services can be changed. Local agreements with local authorities are the key; in some areas, local authorities have proposed 10 service change dates (but with flexibility to deal with the sort of issues summarised in this answer) and we are happy to support this sort of approach.
StagecoachThe question of fixed dates for service changes has been debated on a number of occasions previously. In some parts of the country we have signed up to a voluntary code, whereby we attempt to make changes on predetermined dates. In Manchester for example there is one date each month. The issues that need to be taken into account include: the ability of the information machine to cope with the volume of change—which gets greater the fewer the number of dates, the need to co-ordinate dates across boundaries—pointing to the need for area agreements, the number of dates which fall outside the specified dates—for example differing school start and finish times (and Universities), opening and closing of factories, shopping centres etc and rail timetable change dates—where bus and rail services are co-ordinated.

For the reasons stated above we believe fixed change dates are unworkable and on balance we believe that voluntary target dates are the most effective way forward and there should probably be no fewer than six or eight per annum.

  Each of the companies remains willing to supply such further information as they possess and as the Committee may find useful.

  I am aware that Stagecoach has submitted a separate note on Corby.

Steven Salmon

Operations Director

29 May 2002



S Yorks10
E Counties9.2
Somerset and Dorset9.3
Devon and Cornwall11.7
(Red Bus)8.1
Centrewest3.4 Adjusted to remove Routemasters
Manchester E7
Manchester W8.3
Overall7.94 Weighted Average



Total Mileage ('000) Km's ('000)
1999-002000-01 2001-021999-00 2000-012001-02
Bristol13,65414,685 13,12421,97323,633 21,120
Avon16,62015,548 16,35826,74725,021 26,325
Devon & Cornwall22,691 23,52321,65736,517 37,85634,853
Cymru19,63519,769 18,49931,59931,814 29,770
Wyvern11,71911,669 11,14618,85918,779 17,937
Beeline5,6056,140 5,2849,0209,881 8,504
Hampshire13,62813,399 12,69321,93221,563 20,427
Wessex4,7075,096 07,5758,201 0
Somerset & Dorset10,165 10,97814,36316,359 17,66723,114
South & Wales118,424 120,807113,124190,580 194,415182,050
London West21,69623,940 20,81834,91538,527 33,502
London East17,20217,819 20,99927,68328,676 33,794
London38,89841,759 41,81762,59967,203 67,296
Essex20,42319,816 17,79432,86731,890 28,636
Eastern Counties19,418 19,41719,22931,249 31,24830,945
Leicester5,0795,077 4,6858,1748,170 7,540
Northampton2,1922,264 2,3803,5283,643 3,830
Midlands & East Anglia47,112 46,57444,08875,817 74,95270,951
Leeds20,73520,709 20,04933,36933,327 32,265
Bradford8,0558,465 8,47312,96313,623 13,636
Huddersfield5,9306,069 5,9459,5439,767 9,567
Halifax7,3387,202 7,01611,80911,590 11,291
York3,7834,299 4,0366,0886,918 6,495
South Yorkshire31,609 31,57131,35650,868 50,80750,461
Yorkshire77,45078,315 76,875124,640126,032 123,715
Potteries20,57021,465 19,06133,10334,544 30,675
Manchester34,01234,966 36,62054,73656,271 58,933
North West54,58256,431 55,68187,83990,814 89,607
Glasgow49,12149,217 47,81079,05079,205 76,941
Aberdeen7,5017,704 7,37412,07112,398 11,867
Edinburgh29,79428,675 13,22147,94746,147 21,277
Central & Borders0 014,2890 022,995
Scotland86,41685,596 82,694139,069137,750 133,079
Total422,882429,482 414,279680,544691,165 666,699

ReliabilityWeighting 34Waiting longer than expected— Weighting 45
Buses not running or cancelled—Weighting 29
Buses delayed due to traffic—Weighting 19
Bus did not stop—Weighting   7
VehiclesWeighting14 Cleanliness—Weighting 30
Comfort—Weighting 22
Modern—Weighting 25
Access—Weighting 17
DriversWeighting12 Attitude—Weighting 58
Driving—Weighting 30
Appearance—Weighting 12
FaresWeighting  7
InformationWeighting   5

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