Local people will be sorely disappointed with today’s report on the future of bus services in the north east.
Over the last five years many constituents have contacted me to express their deep dissatisfaction about the cost of fares and the level of service currently being provided by the private bus companies.
The Combined Authority was absolutely right to try to change this by proposing a London-style Quality Contract Scheme (QCS) that would integrate routes and fares and ensure taxpayer subsidies were used to maintain and improve services. That is why today's acknowledgement by the QCS board that the scheme would offer local people a transport system unrivalled outside London is welcome.
However, it beggars belief that the QCS board believe operators should be compensated for the loss of future profits. The QCS board are wrong to expect the people of the north east to compensate bus operators in return for a better deal.
This report calls into question the Chancellor's ability to deliver one of his key devolution commitments. Ministers need to rapidly resolve this confusion in the forthcoming Buses Bill to guarantee our new devolution deal is worth the paper it's written on.
The interests of local people must come before the profits of shareholders.
Further information on the QSC board report can be found here