08 January 2009

Nationalisation in Donny?

Certainly that's how the Doncaster Free Press made their headline sound in Tuesday's edition!

What they meant to say was that South Yorkshire PTE (SYPTE) is hoping to have a Statutory Quality Partnership Scheme (SQPS) in place across the Doncaster area by the summer. The SQPS would comprise members from SYPTE and the Transport Authority, along with representatives from the local council.

Part of the SQPS would see buses operating through Doncaster's town centre needing to meet strict guidelines for accessibility, their environmental credentials, security and accessibility.

What bus operators wont be enamoured to learn is that, following consultation and on the assumption that the scheme is approved and implemented, it could pave the way to a whole host of quality partnerships, where SYPTA/E could specify all manner of minimum requirements for services, such as frequency, vehicle/emission type and even maximum fares. Stagecoach's chief executive Brian Souter has regularly made his feelings known about what he describes as "nationalisation by the back door".

However Doncaster's largest bus operator, First, signalled its intention to committing to quality partnerships. The devil will surely be in the detail of each SQPS!