Bus Services Bill [Lords]

Part of Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill – in the House of Commons at 1:07 pm on 1st March 2017.

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Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport 1:07 pm, 1st March 2017

Smartcard ticketing is important, and the Bill should give the powers and flexibility to introduce it. I want not smartcard ticketing that links simply to one mode of transport, but integrated ticketing on a common platform, so people do not have to have a different card for every city. One of the good things we see is bus companies almost entirely using ITSO technology. The same technology is now used for smartcards on most of our railways, so we have the potential for interoperability and to make our transport system properly integrated.

Ninety per cent. of buses operating local services in England are fitted with smart ticketing. Major operators have committed to introducing contactless payment on all their buses by 2022, but the vast majority of bus fares are still payed in cash. Some operators even require exactly the right change. In response to my hon. Friend’s point, we are updating in the Bill the existing powers to establish multi-operator ticketing schemes to recognise that latest technology. The Bill will allow a local authority to require all operators within its area to sell and accept a particular multi-operator smartcard. Under the powers, local authorities will not be able to set the price of the products—they cannot fix the fares, but will be able to determine the technology, which is important in ensuring that we get integration locally.

That might be enough to improve services for passengers in some areas, but if not, the Bill offers further options. For example, new enhanced partnership schemes enable greater integration of ticketing. They allow authorities and operators not only to agree the price of multi-operator tickets, but to set common ticket zones or concessions and to join other modes, with their agreement, to offer an integrated ticket.

I will pick up briefly on the open data point made by Mary Creagh. I want to make it simpler for passengers to plan their journey and to know when their bus will arrive and how much it will cost. She is absolutely right that there is enormous variability across England, and it is essential that that changes. Where the service is good, passengers have access to real-time information, but where it is not good, they do not, and it is important that the former becomes universal. The open data provisions in the Bill are designed to allow public transport app providers, such as Citymapper and Traveline, among others, to develop a new generation of products that will do precisely that.

The Bill will also introduce new arrangements for local authorities and bus operators to work together in partnership. Partnerships between bus operators and local authorities appear to be working well in some areas and passengers are happy. Liverpool, for example, the city of origin of the right hon. Member for Leigh, the Labour mayoral candidate in Manchester—an unusual achievement, if I might say so—has developed strong partnerships with the private sector. It might be something that the next Mayor of Manchester, Conservative Councillor—[Interruption.]—Sean Anstee, will decide to introduce when he beats the right hon. Gentleman to the post. [Hon. Members: “He didn’t know his name!”] The note is about something completely different.