Deregulation of London's bus services

MQT on 2007-10-17
Session date: 
October 17, 2007
Question By: 
Murad Qureshi
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


A possible deregulation of bus services in London would be as disastrous as it has been for other cities. Main roads would be jammed with buses all offering different fares and with very patchy quality. Meanwhile services on less busy routes and at less busy times would evaporate. Can you confirm that there are no plans to change the regulatory regime for London buses and that any move towards the de-regulated system in place in the rest of the country would be an unmitigated disaster for our city?


Answer for Deregulation of London's bus services

Answer for Deregulation of London's bus services

Answered By: 
The Mayor

I can confirm there are no plans for the deregulation of bus services in London. The current contracting regime that TfL operates to deliver the bus service is a model nationally and befits a world-class city. Since the first mayoral election, bus usage has fallen by 8% in the main English cities outside London, whereas it has risen by 45% here. In London all buses are fitted with closed circuit TV, as compared to just 46% in the other major English cities.

To quote Roger Evans, in his foreword to the Assembly's Transport Committee's scrutiny into TfL's bus contracts he said, 'The Committee found that Transport for London has achieved value for money principally through the application of strict reliability standards, through the quality incentive contracts regime. London now has a larger bus network than any other comparable international city and passenger numbers have grown by 500 million since 2001.'

The Government's auditors carried out a review of bus systems across England in 2005 and found that regulation is both tightly managed and effective inside London. The report went on to say that London's bus network is being used by more passengers than at any time since the 1960s. The prevalent downward trend on bus usage has been reversed in London as the network has expanded, the fleet overhauled and reliability improved. The quality incentive contract system appears to have worked.

The operator market has remained competitive. There are seven major players operating across the network. This compares favourably with many other UK cities where only one or two operators provide the bus service. Every route re-tendered there has on average three bidders competing for the contract and contract costs. There was a much sharper upward trend under previous contracting systems, but here they have by and large remained flat, between £4.20 and £4.30 a kilometre during the last four years.

Operator returns, which outside London average 12% to 15%, are around 8% in the capital. This has been achieved against a backdrop of rising driver wages and fleet overhauls. I really thank Roger [Evans] for that. I am going to ask if he can send it on to Boris Johnson who seems to be completely ignorant of it.