Clause 60

Part of Local Transport Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:15 pm on 6th May 2008.

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Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Minister of State (Regional Affairs) (Yorkshire and the Humber), Minister of State (Department for Transport) 6:15 pm, 6th May 2008

As my hon. Friend said, the clause will enable traffic commissioners to impose sanctions on operators who fail to meet statutory requirements to provide bus punctuality. It is important that we ensure that traffic commissioners have access to regular and accurate information on the punctuality of bus services, enabling them to pinpoint areas of consistent underperformance. That will enable them to investigate the underlying causes.

My hon. Friend made a good point about GPS systems and ensuring that, as far as possible, bus operators use them. However, we should seek to achieve that in other ways. When we talk about quality partnership schemes and quality contracts, the thrust of the Bill enables local authorities to have greater discussions with bus operators about the use of such equipment to ensure that proper records are kept. That is not something that we want covered under primary legislation, but it is an extremely important point. There are areas in the country where, for example, local authorities have invested with bus operators in installing GPS to enable them to have joint information about punctuality and important real-time information. When local authorities want to say that the next bus arrives in 10 minutes and so on, they often need the support that comes with GPS to be able to do so.

While I take my hon. Friend’s point about supporting the idea of giving more power to traffic commissioners to request information about bus punctuality, it means that local authorities will be able to work with bus operators and that, in some cases, reaching agreement about the fact that they would like buses operating with the GPS if that were appropriate in their area. However, we can address such issues in other ways rather than through primary legislation. I have especially in mind the fact that, as he is aware, technology can move on. I am sure that we want not want to be restricted to one type of technology under the Bill when other types might become available in future.