Memorandum by Central and West Lancashire
Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Bus 23)
THE BUS INDUSTRY
By way of background Central and West Lancashire
Chamber of Commerce and Industry represents 1,200 business members
in every industry sector and covering every size of company. The
majority of these members are small businessesthe seedbed
of the future prosperity of the United Kingdom. We are a fully
Accredited Chamber of Commerce providing a core range of high
quality business support services.
Our response is detailed as follows:
UK BUS INDUSTRY
1.1 An effective and reliable public transport
network is essential to help reduce urban traffic congestion.
The Government has set a target of 10 per cent patronage. But
how to achieve it? Through introducing congestion charging and
car restraint measures or by subsidising usage. We believe that
a combination of both measures needs to be applied.
1.2 Government targets to encourage greater
use of public transport can only be achieved if there is a realistic
alternative to the car. This is particularly important given the
complicated nature of many journeys (particularly to the workplace,
as people tend to have more flexibility as to where they shop
and spend their leisure time) and the difficulty of replicating
these journeys by public transport.
1.3 Public transport does not yet have the
capacity or the perception of quality to make sure that motorists
who are forced to change their behaviour have somewhere to go.
The reliability and speed of public transport are key features
for any regime to increase its attractiveness. Subsidies can help
improve the effectiveness and reliability of non-viable bus services
as well as bringing both economic and environmental benefits providing
bus operators receive fair compensation.
1.4 We believe that the previous rebate
of duty payable on diesel used for local bus services should be
increased as a percentage to reduce the cost of running services.
This would reduce the pressure on fare increases and provide a
clear indication of the Government's intention to promote the
greater use of public transport and investment in service improvements.
The current rate only covers 80 per cent of the full duty, which
leaves passengers having to pay the remaining 20 per cent. This
is inequitable and is effectively a tax on users of bus transport.
By contrast rail users pay 0 per cent on electricity or 7 per
cent on diesel.
1.5 Special exceptions must be made to rural
communities where public transport is not viable and where increased
road costs could lead to severe social and economic difficulties.
Restoring the fuel duty rebate to 100 per cent would directly
benefit the less advantaged and socially excluded as this group
use bus transport to a greater extent than rail.
1.6 A study by Preston Borough Council revealed
that 50 per cent of all road traffic within the town centre was
made by vehicles travelling less than 4km. Road pricing will not
remove these vehicles but an effective and sustained travel awareness
campaign linked to a viable and efficient public transport system
2. THE RELATIVE
2.1 We support the principle of Quality
Partnerships but believe that additional resources must be made
available to local authorities to enable further development of
measures to increase park and ride, public transport schemes,
and traffic calming as part of an overall package of measures.
2.2 There needs to be some mechanism for
co-ordinating the work of local partnerships and identifying examples
of best practice that could be adopted throughout the country.
This has to be co-ordinated at a national level.
3. THE IMPORTANCE
3.1 Reliability and speed are key to improving
the attractiveness of public transport. Improving journey speeds
will help to reduce the differences with private car journeys.
Implementing bus priority measures will improve the effectiveness
and reliability of bus services and bring both economic and environmental
3.2 We believe that an effective and reliable
public transport network is essential to help reduce town centre
congestion. It would be sensible to give public transport systems
within urban areas priority use of road space and, therefore,
priorities within town centres must be to increase the public
transport network at the expense of non-essential traffic.
3.3 The Government has announced that revenue
from local congestion charges and workplace parking can be ploughed
back into local transport schemes. The decriminalisation of traffic
offences has also provided local authorities with an opportunity
to ring fence income for expenditure on transport improvement
3.4 Metropolitan centres do well retail
wise, despite limited parking and high parking charges. These
centres also work well when they have excellent public transport.
However, many local authorities fear that if they progress independently
on bus priority issues they will merely encourage car users to
go to other towns with better or equivalent retail facilities.
We need to ensure that local authorities covering rural or semi-urban
areas do not become involved in sterile and destructive competition
between themselves when seeking to introduce bus transport management
3.5 It should be recognised that shoppers
are as likely to be tempted by lower or non-existent parking charges
to travel to more distant retail destinations regardless of the
additional fuel cost as they are by improved public transport.
We would wish to avoid a situation whereby local retail centres
compete against one another by providing a higher number of parking
spaces as opposed to improved bus priority measures.
3.6 Local authorities are often too small
to deal with some of the big strategic planning and transportation
issues. The solution inevitably requires a regional understanding
of the general direction of transport and planning policies on
which the Government should give a clear lead. The Government's
commitment to regional decision-making and co-ordination should
be recognised as a natural touchstone for the development and
enhancement of the strategic transport networks.
3.7 We believe that park and ride is workable
when properly resourced and has an appropriate frequency of services
and destinations. We would also like to see a reference to the
security of park and ride facilities. These should be staffed
to encourage people to leave their cars some distance from their
3.8 There should be a clear commitment within
local transport plans that public transport systems should be
given priority use of road space in all new highway schemes.
4.1 The Government's stated aim in its 10-Year
Transport Plan is to deliver an integrated and sustainable transport
system which delivers real choice across different modes of transport.
We believe that government measures to improve co-ordination between
modes of transport are being stifled by the Competition Act. One
of the stated aims of the Act is to reward consumers with lower
prices, higher quality, and wider choice. However we believe that
the Act is stifling consumer choice for a number of reasons:
The Act is stifling integration of ticketing
because it makes integration of rail and bus services impossible
if the rail company is owned by a competing bus operator.
Transport operators who operate bus and rail
services can integrate both the services they operate. However
they cannot talk to other operators about the integration of their
Bus operators cannot accept return or multi journey
tickets issued by other operators on the same route as this would
be seen as collusion over fares even if it was to the benefit
of the passengers.
Steps must be taken to ensure that the Competition
Act does not have the perverse effect of stifling moves towards
improved public transport integration by local authorities and
operators, particularly in respect of simplified joint ticketing
and sensible timetable co-ordination where this is clearly to
the benefit of the public (for example service connections, maximising
potential joint operator frequencies etc).
We agree that some regulation is required but
it should be sensible and the Competition Act in its present form
4.2 One of the reasons why London has retained
bus patronage is through the TravelCard system where one good
value ticket gives access to all buses and trains. Elsewhere in
the United Kingdom the lack of a fully co-ordinated system can
be seen as a major deterrent to bus patronage. For example getting
information about public transport services that involve a number
of different transport operators requires considerable effort
and, for a new and complex journey, may be virtually insurmountable.
By contrast navigation for motorists is much simpler.
4.3 The role of the Government must be to
take the lead role in defining and co-ordinating overall transport
policy for all sectors of the transport network. This cannot be
left to market forces alone.
5. THE CONTRIBUTION
5.1 The lack of public transport solutions
for work journeys is a major reason for social exclusion in rural
areas. Special exceptions must be made to rural communities where
public transport is not viable where increased road costs could
lead to severe social and economic difficulties. But local authorities
do not have enough money revenue to fund non-profitable routes.
Government needs to allocate more money ring fenced for such routes.
5.2 The Government should undertake a national
public awareness and schools education programme, similar to those
that discourage smoking and drink driving in order to promote
the benefits of adopting a sustainable transport strategy and
the means to achieve it. At the same time it must explain the
likely social, economic, and environmental consequences of not
doing so. Bus awareness campaigns should be co-ordinated nationally
in a similar manner to the approach adopted with road safety.
5.3 Local transport plans should maintain
a full commitment to subsidising transport services that do not
generate enough income to make them self-financing where such
services meet an essential social need.
Friday 12 April 2002