A plan to improve bus services in Tyne and Wear while providing savings for local taxpayers has been submitted to an independent panel of experts for review.
The North East Combined Authority (neca) approved the plan to establish local council control of bus services, through a Quality Contracts Scheme, at its meeting on 21 October 2014.
The completed proposal, drawn up for neca by passenger transport body Nexus, has now been sent to a Quality Contracts Scheme Board.
The board, an independent panel set up by the Government, will bring together the Traffic Commissioner and two expert advisers to consider whether the scheme is in the public interest and whether the right process has been followed.
Councillor Nick Forbes, (leader of Newcastle City Council and) Regional Transport lead for the North East Combined Authority said: “After lengthy and careful consideration the Leadership Board of the Combined Authority felt the QCS scheme to be in the best interests of people in the region, including bus passengers.
“The proposal presents the best option for increasing passenger numbers, protecting important but less profitable routes, maintaining and expanding the lower fares offered, introducing smart ticketing and providing a clear and easier to use bus network.
“We believe it is a very sound proposal and we await the decision of the Quality Contracts Scheme Board with great interest.”
Bernard Garner, Director General of Nexus, said: “The completed Quality Contracts Scheme proposal represents 900 pages of detailed analysis and modelling of the benefits which passengers can expect from a QCS. It has been developed over three years, in consultation with bus companies, unions, passenger groups and local councils.
“It sets out how we intend to provide lower fares, cheap travel for young people and a single smart card for all public transport, while protecting threatened routes and reducing cost to the taxpayer.”
A copy of the proposed Quality Contracts Scheme can be read and downloaded from the website www.nexus.org.uk/busstrategy. A copy is also available to read in person between 10am and 4pm each Monday to Friday at Nexus House, 33 St James Boulevard, Newcastle NE1 4AX.