Under the ‘Bus Back Better’ National Bus Strategy, any local transport authority who has not ‘committed’ to entering an enhanced partnership scheme or franchising its public bus network by 1 July 2021, has risked losing the benefit of the Covid-19 Bus Service Support Grant ( also known as the CBSSG) for both itself as a local authority and the bus operators in its area. However, it is not clear what exactly is meant by ‘committed’ and it could be inferred that this simply requires local transport authorities to have started the negotiations with local bus operators.
It is unlikely that local authorities will be able to franchise their public bus network before the deadline, as it is a long process after which it may be decided that it is not the best option. The Bus Back Better document therefore advises such local authorities to work towards entering an enhanced partnership scheme whilst exploring the option of franchising.
If your local authority has ‘committed’ to an enhanced partnership scheme, they will now likely be working towards producing a Local Bus Service Improvement Plan (LBSIP) by 31 October 2021 and they may be in discussion with you about this.
If you would like advice regarding discussions surrounding LBSIPs, franchising, or enhanced partnership schemes, please contact Backhouse Jones. Equally, we can help if you have concerns about the conduct of a local authority working towards franchising or enhanced partnerships schemes and can discuss what sort of information you may or may not wish to provide. Contact the regulatory team on 01254 828300.