Written statement to Parliament

Change to the rules for operators registering local bus services

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Explains changes to rules for registering local bus services and the outcome of a related government consultation.

The Rt Hon John Hayes CBE MP

My Noble friend, the Minister of State for Transport (Baroness Kramer), has made the following ministerial statement:

In March 2014 the government consulted on its implementation of the 4 remedies proposed by the Competition Commission recommending changes to the existing rules for the registration of local bus services with the Traffic Commissioner. The 4 remedies formed part of a much wider series of recommendations made by the Competition Commission following its 2 year ‘Local bus services market investigation’ which concluded in December 2011.

I am today (5 February 2015) announcing that following a review of the responses to the consultation I have decided to only progress 1 of the 4 remedies - the 14-day pre-notification period for local transport authorities. Whilst this only constitutes a partial implementation of the Competition Commission’s recommendations in this particular area, this follows full consideration of the consultation responses and the cost benefit analysis undertaken as part of the legislative process.

The implementation of the 14-day pre-notification period for local authorities makes a material contribution towards meeting the Competition Commission’s concerns in a way that builds on government policy to promote partnership working between operators and local authorities. New entrants would have at least 14 days to operate before a reaction from the incumbent(s) as the information would be kept confidential. As identified by the Competition Commission the extra visibility to local authorities should also discourage anticompetitive reactions by an incumbent.

The consultation also sought views on the department’s ambition to move to a fully electronic bus registration system over the next 2-3 years and invited views on how to make this happen. This will bring benefits not only to operators and local authorities in terms of reduced administrative costs and ease of updating local travel information, but also to passengers in terms of an improvement in completeness and timeliness of bus route / timetable information. There was broad support for this aim and so a move to a fully digital bus registration system will be progressed. We will be engaging with key players over the next few months to establish the best way to make this happen.

A summary of responses and the government position has been published on GOV.UK and has been placed in the libraries of both Houses.

Published 5 February 2015