Nexus has today asked local bus operators to help it develop a system of bus franchising, known as a Quality Contracts Scheme, for Tyne and Wear.
Nexus is exploring the possibility of bus franchising, known as a Quality Contracts Scheme on behalf of the Integrated Transport Authority, alongside the option of improving the local bus system by working in much closer partnership with bus companies.
In order to do this it is producing a working draft Quality Contracts Scheme, and has invited local bus operators, trades unions and neighbouring local authorities to help strengthen the proposal.
At the same time Nexus is continuing talks with the operators’ negotiating body, NEBOA (the North East Bus Operators' Association) to develop a partnership, with both sides committed to achieving a positive result.
The Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority, which in 2011 asked Nexus to pursue the parallel work streams as part of the Bus Strategy Delivery Project, will consider the outcomes of both at a later date, prior to public consultation.
The ITA and Nexus are acting in partnership with the five local councils in Tyne and Wear to explore potential change to the way local buses are provided in order to improve services for local people and make sure they are sustainable and affordable in the years ahead.
Cllr David Wood, Chairman of the Integrated Transport Authority, said: “This work offers an opportunity to grow the local bus market over the long term, something which is good for local bus companies and their employees. But to get it right we need their input before plans can be finalised, which is why Nexus is asking bus operators and trades unions to give their views on a working draft.
Similarly it is asking neighbouring local authorities for their views about how it can make the proposals work for them.
“It is important to remember that this is a parallel process, and the ITA has asked to see detailed proposals for both a Quality Contracts Scheme and a partnership so that it can be fully informed about the options.”
Bernard Garner, Director General of Nexus, said: “We have developed a working draft for a Quality Contracts Scheme, and we are now asking bus operators, their employees and neighbouring authorities to help us make sure we have taken everything into account.
“Our effort to date has focussed on making fares simple and affordable, and on increasing peoples’ access to frequent services. We believe that what we have designed so far is affordable without needing extra public funds, and meets the ITA’s policy objectives to grow passenger numbers and peoples’ ability to access bus services from where they live.
“We are evaluating two different options to improve bus services, and I am in regular contact with NEBOA to develop a partnership. NEBOA has put forward a discussion document that is a very good starting point for negotiation, with both sides committed to achieving a ground-breaking partnership.
“Members of NEBOA have held a constructive discussion with ITA Members, and so I look forward to a positive outcome from this piece of work.”
The ITA will hear a formal update on progress on the whole Bus Strategy Delivery Project at its September meeting.