Bus Services Bill [HL] - Committee (2nd Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:31 pm on 4th July 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Randerson Baroness Randerson Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Transport) 5:31 pm, 4th July 2016

My Lords, in contrast, I support the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, in his amendment, because I believe strongly that there is a valuable role for community transport and not-for-profit operators. That role is particularly important in rural areas. I take this opportunity to thank the Minister for the very useful letter that I received today, which gives great detail about the Government’s approach to rural areas. I regret that the information is not in the formal impact assessment; nevertheless, it is now publicly available and useful to us all.

It is important not just that not-for-profit operators work in rural areas but that we look at the widest possible range of community-based schemes in urban areas as well. I give as an example Hackney Community Transport, which operates commercial services for Transport for London, and Ealing Community Transport, which runs buses in Dorset with Go-Ahead. Those are urban examples that have spread out from the area where they started, but the point I am making is that community-based and not-for-profit transport services are part of a flexible mix. If we are truly to improve bus services, we must have more variety: we must have an alternative to the big five bus companies which effectively run the vast majority of bus services outside London. Although they compete, in most cases they do not do so on the ground—they rarely compete against each other service to service. We need an alternative to that if we are to have a flourishing bus service throughout Britain.