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Transport Act 2000

Sections 114 to 123: Bus Services: Quality Partnership schemes

93.Sections 114 to 123 empower local transport authorities, either alone or jointly, to set up Quality Partnership (QP) schemes as part of the process of implementation of their current bus strategy. A QP scheme entails the authority providing special facilities, and setting standards to be observed by bus operators as a condition of using the facilities. A scheme must implement the bus strategy and be aimed at improving local bus services for the benefit of bus users or at improving the environment. “Local services” are defined in section 162(3) by reference to the 1985 Act. In essence they are bus services with stopping places less than 15 miles apart (section 2 of the 1985 Act).

94.Similar schemes currently exist as voluntary arrangements in over 100 towns and cities in England and Wales, where local authorities have agreed to exercise their functions (especially as regards traffic management) in particular ways and operators in return have agreed to provide improved bus services with the aim of promoting bus use. The principal difference between these and schemes created under the Act is that the latter will be enforceable at law.

95.Section 114 specifies the nature of a QP scheme. The facilities to be provided under a scheme must include facilities (such as bus lanes and shelters) at specific locations along bus routes (or where appropriate prospective bus routes) which bus operators can use; they may include other ancillary facilities also. Information facilities may not be included if the authority has determined that these must be provided throughout their area under section 139 (which is mentioned at paragraph 114 below). Standards which may be imposed on operators under a statutory QP scheme do not extend to service frequency or timing, since separate provision is made for this by the service subsidy provisions of section 9A of the 1968 Act and section 63 of the 1985 Act and a comprehensive local authority approach to determining timetables is provided for in the separate Quality Contracts sections (paragraphs 102 to 109 below). Both the facilities and the new standards must in themselves improve the quality of local services in the relevant area. The Act does not prevent authorities and operators from making voluntary arrangements as at present.

96.Section 114(8) to (10) require QP schemes to be made jointly by the local transport authority and the traffic authority where facilities cannot be provided without the making of a traffic regulation order for a road or roads for which the local transport authority is not the traffic authority. Traffic authorities in England and Wales (outside London) are the Secretary of State or NAW in the case of trunk roads and the non-metropolitan county councils and metropolitan district councils in the case of other roads. “Traffic regulation order” is defined in section 162(1).

97.A scheme may not be made without prior consultation with bodies specified in section 115, including bus operators, representatives of bus users and other local authorities. Sections 116 and 117 provide for the making (as proposed or with modifications) and the postponement of schemes. In particular there is provision for excluding certain services from schemes where this is considered appropriate (for example a community bus service acting as a feeder to a main bus route). The Secretary of State or the NAW may issue guidance on QPs and make regulations about detailed matters under sections 122 and 123.

98.Once a scheme is in operation, it must remain so for at least 5 years (section 116(2)) and duties are placed:

  • on the authority to provide the necessary facilities (section 118(1));

  • on the bus operators to meet the necessary standards if they use the facilities (section 118(4)),

  • except where any of them is temporarily unable to do so because of circumstances beyond its control.

99.Compliance by the operators will be secured under the existing registration system for local bus services. Paragraphs 10 and 22 of Schedule 11 amend sections 26 and 111 of the 1985 Act to empower traffic commissioners to take enforcement action if an operator is in breach of his duty under section 118(4).

100.Section 119 enables the Secretary of State or NAW to make special provision by regulations covering cases where a QP scheme incorporates facilities which already exist.

101.Section 120 makes provision for the variation and revocation of QP schemes and section 121 specifies which authorities are responsible for the making of the variation and the implementation and subsequent variation or revocation of a scheme which has been varied. In the case where the Secretary of State or NAW, as a trunk road authority, jointly responsible for a scheme, wishes to remove scheme facilities from a trunk road, he or it may do so using powers to revoke traffic regulation orders under paragraph 27 of Schedule 9 to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. However, by virtue of an amendment to that paragraph made by paragraph 8 ofSchedule 11, this may be done only after consultation with other responsible authorities. A trunk road authority is then relieved of any further responsibilities for those facilities under the scheme (section 118(3)).

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