FirstGroup explores options for its UK bus business

Britain’s bus industry faces a huge shake-up as FirstGroup prepares to separate its UK Bus operations from the rest of its business.

Chief executive Matthew Gregory said a range of options were on the table for UK bus. “They include a sale, either in whole or in parts, [or] it could include partnerships, it could include potentially even a de-merger.”

FirstGroup’s new strategy will see it concentrate on markets in North America.

The company’s long-term commitment to the UK rail market is uncertain, and will be influenced by the outcome of the Government’s Williams review.

Car-based suburban sprawl threat to Oxfordshire

Much of Oxfordshire could be covered by car-based suburban sprawl under proposals to build hundreds of thousands of new homes, former Oxfordshire County Council transport and planning officers have warned.

Oxfordshire will become a county of suburban sprawl unless planning and transport policy changes,” says the group POETS (Planning Oxfordshire’s Environment and Transport Sustainably). It wants the Government to scrap the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Expressway road.

Road user charges for Heathrow

Heathrow Airport plans to implement an ultra-low emission zone by 2022, ahead of introducing a wider vehicle access charge for all car, taxis and private hire vehicles entering the airport when the proposed new third runway opens.

Revenue from both schemes would fund improved public transport and active travel, community compensation schemes associated with the airport’s expansion, and also help limit the rise in airport charges faced by airlines.

Transport policy-makers must grasp age of algorithms

Transport policy-makers must recognise the arrival of the age of algorithms and become “algorithmically literate” to deal with a range of challenges from machine-driven systems, governments have been told.

A report by the International Transport Forum notes that automated decision-making is becoming increasingly prevalent. While this brings benefits, such as solving previously intractable problems, the report says algorithmic systems are highly opaque and difficult to explain to regulators or people affected by their decisions.

Financing plan for EVs

Municipal bus operator Newport Transport has become the first transport operator to make use of a new £120m financing facility promoting electric vehicles.

Bus operators and local authorities are among organisations being targeted by Zenobe Energy’s initiative.

Zenobe will own and operate batteries in depots, smart charging infrastructure and batteries in vehicles. In return, customers will pay a pence per mile service fee or a fixed monthly charge.

About the Author

This post was written by Andrew Forster. Andrew Forster edits the fortnightly magazine Local Transport Today, covering transport policy and practice from across the UK. To subscribe to Local Transport Today, click here.

Andrew Forster

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