Get on board

Why Mayors should choose bus franchising

More than ever before mayors need to be able to control the bus services in their city. This report explains why and sets out how they can achieve this.

Briefing published on 11 June 2021 by Dan Harvey

This summer, all local transport authorities and mayoral combined authorities must commit to establishing London-style bus franchising or enhanced partnerships, as per England’s national bus strategy.

Franchising, also referred to as local control, gives metro mayors similar powers to the Mayor of London over buses, allowing them to specify the service in their area – the routes, fares, frequencies and quality of service.

This report highlights the game-changing potential of bus franchising, calling for metro mayors to act now and take up the powers unlocked by the Bus Services Act in order to retain government funding and deliver visible and lasting improvements to the bus network in their city region.

It sets out five steps to local control:

  1. Prepare an assessment of the proposed scheme
  2. Have this independently audited
  3. Consult on the proposals
  4. Analyse the responses
  5. Decide whether to proceed

It outlines what needs to change:

First and foremost:

Mayors should take local control of bus services and press ahead with plans to proceed with franchising.

The Government should smooth the way for mayors to make a simple either/or choice by:

Making it possible for mayors to decide solely on the merits of either approach.

Allowing all cities to introduce bus franchising without application to the Secretary of State.

Taking steps beyond the current timetable to make franchising easier.

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