Bus passengers to benefit
from local Transport Bill - new Passenger Champion to be created
TRANSPORT News Release (153) issued by The Government News Network
on 8 November 2007
package of measures to improve public transport and create the
first formal champion for bus passengers was announced today as
part of the Local Transport Bill by Transport Minister, Rosie Winterton.
The Local Transport Bill will give local authorities greater
local freedom and choice, with increased flexibility and powers to
deliver better bus services and a more integrated transport system
tailored to local needs. In response to public consultation, it
also paves the way for the introduction of an influential new
passenger champion to give bus users in England a more powerful voice.
Rosie Winterton said:
"The Local Transport Bill will give more powers to local
authorities because they best understand their local transport
needs. They will be able to improve local bus services and deliver
"Buses are the backbone of our public transport system and
account for two thirds of all journeys made by public transport.
That is why the Government has invested record sums in buses -
£2.5bn this year - and why we are determined that whether you
catch a bus in Doncaster, Durham, Devon or anywhere else, you will
get the best possible service.
"We have heard loud and clear that people want a more
influential voice for bus passengers. Therefore, the new bus
passenger champion will have a strong public role promoting the
interests of bus users across the country.
"The aim of the Local Transport Bill is to improve services
and get more people on the buses. It will help reduce congestion,
tackle climate change and promote the economic vitality of our
towns and cities."
This Bill would:
* Give local authorities the right mix of powers to improve the
quality of local bus services. This would include enabling more
effective partnership working between local authorities and bus
operators and allowing greater flexibility to implement
'quality contracts' schemes in areas where local
authorities need to take greater control over bus services in the
interests of the public. It would also introduce a new regime to
deliver better punctuality and measures to support further
development of the community transport sector.
* Allow for the creation of an influential new bus passenger
champion to represent the interests of bus passengers.
* Allow local authorities to carry out a review of existing
arrangements for planning and taking decisions on transport
services in their area, and to propose changes. Passenger
Transport Authorities would be renamed Integrated Transport
Authorities (ITAs), to reflect their role in coordinated planning
of transport, and new or expanded ITAs could be set up to ensure
local arrangements meet local needs.
Under the Transport Act 2000, local authorities in England can
already develop proposals combining local road pricing schemes and
improvements in public transport. The Bill ensures all proceeds
from local schemes are spent on local transport for the lifetime
of the scheme. It also contains measures which will make sure that
local road pricing schemes are interoperable and removes the need
for local authorities to seek the Secretary of State's
approval for their schemes.
The Bill does not, and was never intended to, provide the powers
needed for a national road pricing scheme.
Notes to Editors
1. The Local Transport Bill was published in draft on May 22
2007, for public consultation and Parliamentary pre-legislative scrutiny.
2. A summary of the consultation and the Department for
Transport's response are published today alongside the Bill.
They are available at http://www.dft.gov.uk/localtransportbill.
3. Responses to the Bill consultation indicated broad support
for the principle of greater bus passenger representation. The
precise scope, membership and constitution of the body will be a
matter for full consultation and debate. The Department will also
need to consider whether the bus champion role should be given to
a stand-alone bus passengers' body or an existing passenger
representative body in the transport field. The Local Transport
Bill therefore includes provisions to allow relevant functions to
be assigned, in secondary legislation, either to a new body or to
the existing Rail Passengers' Council.
Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport