Key talks map out way forward for bus industry

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TRANSPORT Minister Keith Brown today chaired the first meeting of the Bus Stakeholder Group as the industry and passenger groups began discussions on a new route map for the industry.

Representatives from the bus industry, Bus Users UK, COSLA, Transport partnerships, the Traffic Commissioner and the Community Transport Association were in attendance to discuss issues including bus service registration, Quality Partnerships and the Government’s new Bus Investment Fund.

A range of innovative ideas geared towards better supporting commuters, protecting services and addressing problems being faced by the industry were also discussed.

It was agreed in Edinburgh this afternoon that the group will focus on three key areas:

·  Reviewing the regulations covering bus service provision and the registration of bus services with a view to bringing greater stability to the network.

·  Considering what additional steps are needed to encourage greater use of schemes like that established last year in Renfrewshire and more recently in Glasgow which set quality criteria on areas such as customer service, minimum frequencies and standards of service.

·  The public funding framework including the Bus Investment Fund, and how best this money can be invested to deliver improved bus services.

Funding from Bus Investment fund could provide improved infrastructure such as bus lanes, bus priority at traffic lights and real time information.

Sustainability

The Bus Stakeholder Group was set up in February to take forward policy development and delivery with key stakeholders. Speaking afterwards, Mr Brown said: “Today’s meeting was designed to bring together the key players in the bus industry to start work on a new route map which puts the needs of passengers at its core. Passengers want secure, efficient and affordable services and the meeting focussed on how we deliver that.

“Securing sustainable bus services for the future is a top priority, despite the challenges currently facing us such as extremely high fuel prices and a very tough economic climate. Which is all the more reason why we should be pulling together in the same direction to develop innovative solutions.

“We are already investing £250 million in the coming year, including an increase in funding for concessionary travel and supporting the industry with our Green Bus Fund and Bus Investment Fund to improve facilities and introduce better partnerships between local transport bodies and bus companies.

“I hope today is just the beginning of a plan to produce a better service for passengers – one that provides greater clarity on coverage, punctuality, reliability, fare costs and quality of service.

“Bus services are of great importance to the travelling public and we have committed substantial levels of funding to support concessionary travel, keep down fare costs, support the bus network and enable investment in low carbon vehicles. Today’s meeting was essentially about finding some common ground and mapping out an ambitious vision for the bus industry. Despite the very challenging economic climate we must do even more and build on today’s encouraging start.”

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