Issue - meetings

Cost Pressures on Subsidised Public Transport Contracts

Meeting: 13/03/2019 - Cabinet (Item 7)

7 Cost pressures and Continued Support for Subsidised Public Transport Contracts pdf icon PDF 117 KB

To seek approval to review subsidised public transport services and implement measures to manage future public transport arrangements across the county.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Cllr Nigel Moor, Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning, sought approval to review subsidised public transport services and implement measures to manage future public transport arrangements across the County. 

 

Having considered all of the information, including known proposals, alternative options and reasons for the recommendations, Cabinet noted the report and,

 

RESOLVED to: -

 

Delegate authority to the Lead Commissioner for Community Infrastructure, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Environment & Planning to 

 

1)    Review, consult, procure and award, where necessary, transport contracts; and

 

2)    Review mechanisms for contract inflation, bus subsidies and the competitiveness of the local bus market, and report back with recommendations.

 

 

 

 

Minutes:

Cllr Nigel Moor, Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning, sought to delegate authority to the Lead Commissioner for Community Infrastructure to review, procure and award the council’s transport contracts. The decision included the proposal to review public transport cost increases and inflation, bus subsidies and the competitiveness of the local bus market.

 

Cllr Moor referred to the questions asked earlier in the meeting and stated how he shared members’ concerns about ongoing cost pressures relating to public transport.

 

Cllr Moor confirmed that the council currently spent £3 million a year on public transport services for people living in less populated areas to access essential services such as; travelling to work; school; shops or health appointments. Such services would not otherwise be provided commercially due to them serving less populated and rural areas or operating at quieter times of the day, including weekends.

 

Cllr Moor stated that during the past year, the council had witnessed contract tender prices incurring increases averaging 35%. To continue to support communities dependent on public transport, it had been agreed at the council budget meeting in February 2019 to invest an extra £223,000 in the public transport budget for 2019/20 to offset some of the increase. Investment had also been made in providing external support to review the council’s contracting processes and better understand pressures from a bus operator perspective.

 

Referring to the due regard statement relating to the decision, Cllr Moor drew attention to the high proportion of older and disabled users of subsidised bus services and stated that it was important that they were not socially or economically excluded by any changes that might be considered. He confirmed it was his intention to consult with these sectors of the community, along with other bus users and listen carefully to their views before considering any changes.

 

To provide public transport to those in most need, Cllr Moor explained it would be necessary to review the council’s subsidy policies and to consider the performance of bus routes, whilst ensuring the council stayed within budget. Should any changes to bus routes or policy be considered, officers would be required to make recommendations to Cllr Moor (as the appropriate lead cabinet member) or to Cabinet to make the decision.

 

Responding to a question asked earlier in the meeting, Cllr Moor advised that he did not think the proposed review of services was best suited to local universities, but that it would be better undertaken by a company selected as specialist consultants “at the pulse of the business market”. In considering the wide range of issues that would need to be considered, it was important to have the ability to challenge.

 

Leader of the Council, Cllr Mark Hawthorne, believed there had not been a huge reduction in the number of bus services the council provided. Any changes had been made in an attempt to reduce duplicate commercial services running in parallel with community operated services. It was noted that there had been a good response to the services provided  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7