The Bus Services Bill has now progressed through the Committee Stage of the House of Lords and will shortly be advanced to the Commons. The Committee Stage has seen few amendments made to the Bill that will substantially alter its composition or impact. After briefing members of the House of Lords (you can read our briefing here) on the Bill it is now necessary to work with members of the House of Commons to continue to advocate for innovative transport networks which are developed with community transport in mind from the outset .
As the Bill has progressed we have been working with members such as HCT Group and like-minded organisations to develop policy positions to take to members of the House of Lords. You can read the briefing linked above. In addition to this we have worked with Peers to submit a number of amendments on the Bill. These have ranged from ensuring proper recognition and remuneration for voluntary transport within the overall transport mix, improving quality measures to include accessibility and improving advanced ticketing provisions.
As we have met with partners and spoken with Peers it has been clear that our work has been important in bringing about a new perspective on what we want our local transport services to be like.
This has meant that there has been an ongoing discussion on the value of community transport as the Bill has progressed. Indeed, Lord Ahmad who was leading the debate in the House of Lords noted that:
“I agree that there is more we can do to champion the community transport sector, seeking to use public funding for transport in the most efficient ways.”
Throughout the last section of the Committee Stage the word ‘community’ was used no less than 59 times. It is through this work that we are able to raise the profile of the community transport sector, gain new supporters and enact changes that enhance the sustainability of our sector.
As the Bill progresses to the House of Commons it is now time to look at how we can continue to have impact on the Bill. This means more briefings, contacting MPs, and banging the drum for the work our sector does in delivering inclusive and accessible transport.
Of course we can’t do that alone. Over the coming weeks we will be seeking out our members’ views on the Bill and how it can be improved to enhance the role of community transport operators. Our voice is more powerful when we can draw on the real experience of our members and encourage you to join in by talking to your local MPs.
If you would like to be involved in our work on the Bus Services Bill you can contact me at James@ctauk.org. Together, we can build inclusive and accessible transport networks across England that are responsive to the needs of their local communities.
Please note the Bus Services Bill only applies to England