Government promises rail reform and more devolution to mayoral CAs

Government promises rail reform and more devolution to mayoral CAs

Legislation to reform how the railways are managed, and a White Paper proposing the further devolution of powers from Whitehall to mayoral combined authorities are among pledges contained in this week’s Queen’s Speech.

The rail reforms will build on the final recommendations of Keith Williams’ review of the railways ordered by then transport secretary Chris Grayling.

TfGM consults on bus franchising

Transport for Greater Manchester launched a consultation on becoming the first place in the country to introduce bus franchising.

The proposal would see the bus network franchised in three geographic sub-areas, starting with the north-west of the conurbation, then the north-east and finally the south. TfGM suggests that contracts for the north-west could be entered into by April 2021, with franchising commencing there at the start of 2022.

TfGM estimates that the net cost of franchising during the transition period up to 2024/25 could be £134.5m, of which £78m could be sourced from ‘earn back’ devolution agreement funding, and much of the rest from local contributions.

Shapps promises national bus strategy, as details of £220m extra funding revealed

The DfT is to prepare a national bus strategy and has announced how £220m of extra bus funding in 2020/21 will be allocated.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the funding included: £30m to support more socially necessary services; £23m for Cornwall Council to pilot reduced bus fares; £20m for bus priority in the West Midlands; £20m for demand-responsive trials in rural and suburban areas; and £50m to create an “all-electric bus town or city”.

Drivers of bus use probed

The underlying factors that explain bus patronage levels in local areas are explored in a report published by the Urban Transport Group.

Consultant Transport for Quality of Life has developed a measure of the ‘intrinsic bus potential’ of local authority areas, which considers six conditions, including demographic factors, commuting patterns and travel times.

Nationwide road pricing back on the agenda

Nationwide road pricing is to be the subject of an inquiry by the House of Commons transport committee in the New Year. Committee chair Lillian Greenwood said the ‘climate emergency’ and the decline in exchequer fuel duty revenues resulting from decarbonising road transport were among the reasons why the subject needed to be revisited.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies last week backed the idea of distance-based road pricing. In a new report, the IFS said motoring taxes raised about £40bn a year for the exchequer, but fuel duty would fall sharply as people shift to electric vehicles.

Roll-out of full-blown MaaS ‘has stalled’

The roll-out of full-blown Mobility as a Service (MaaS) applications in the UK appears to have stalled, according to a review of the sector.

The Third annual survey of MaaS in the UK says, however, that other platforms are “trying to make the leap from being a single service to multi-modal” and from having a “single function to multiple uses”.


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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