Bristol’s main bus operator, First, could be forced to cap bus fares and keep to new minimum standards of service.
Councillors in Bristol will this afternoon vote on whether to introduce new powers, known as ‘quality contracts’. They would – if introduced – allow councillors to set bus fares, specify the frequency of bus services, and dictate the types of buses used.
At present, the council has little control over bus operators in the city, who operate as private companies. First has regularly attracted criticism from Bristolians who complain about infrequent services and high fares.
Councils such as Bristol have been given the ability to introduce quality contracts by the Transport Act 2008.
The proposals could also see a new type of travel ticket introduced. Known as the ‘Brunel Card’, it would be valid on different types of public transport, as London’s Oyster card is.
The idea has been put forward by Labour councillor Mark Bradshaw, formerly in charge of transport policy at the council.
He told Original: “Where the council gets directly involved in negotiating things like timetables and sevices, you see an improvement. These contracts would give the council a seat at the table. Where people don’t perform well, the council can say “What’s going on here?”
“At the moment, when it comes to buses the council has very little say. Even though most people think the council has some kind of franchise arrangement, that is not the case at all.”
My interview with Mark Bradshaw: