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Councils best placed to ensure more competition among bus operators
Responding to the Competition Commission's interim findings on opening up the bus market, Cllr Peter Box, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Economy and Transport Board, said:
“The Competition Commission’s findings vindicate what councils have long been saying.
“We need to break up the markets and introduce more competition in the bus industry to stop a small number of multi-national companies dominating our towns, cities and villages. This report recognises that councils are best placed to commission services, which would increase competition locally and deliver better value for money for passengers and taxpayers
“It is not right that bus barons can claim billions of pounds from the public purse while hiking up fares, and passengers are left with no alternative from other operators.
“The logical conclusion to draw from this report is that more towns and cities should make greater use of franchise arrangements, similar to those in London, which would bring more competition into the market.
"Councils should also be able to hold bus operators to account for services, standards and fares in return for the £2.6 billion of public money invested in bus services every year.
“Bus travel is the most popular mode of public transport in England, but taxpayers and passengers are being short-changed.
“Putting councils and residents in the driving seat will help ensure all public funding for buses is used to subsidise the running of vital services and not just to prop up the profits of routes which are already making money."
Notes to editors
1 In 2009/10 bus operators received £2.6 billion in public subsidy. One-third of this is controlled by councils, which means local authorities and residents have little say in which services are operated locally in return for the national subsidy bus operators receive.
2 The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) referred the local bus market to the Competition Commission in January 2010. The commission is carrying out a comprehensive investigation to see if any features of this market prevent, restrict or distort competition and, if so, what action might be taken to remedy the resulting adverse effects on competition. For further details of the commission’s interim findings go to: http://www.competition-commission.org.uk/press_rel/2011/may/pdf/2611_Press_Release.pdf