Venue: Darent Room, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions
Contact: Denise Fitch/Gaetano Romagnuolo 03000 416090/ 416624
(1) RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting held on 15 July are correctly recorded and signed by the Chairman subject to the amendment of ‘none’ to ‘non’ in paragraph 2.3.
Phil Lightowler (Head of Public Transport, Kent County Council) was in attendance for this item.
The Chairman welcomed Mr Lightowler to the Committee. Mr Lightowler began by giving a presentation (attached as a supplement to the Agenda pack) about bus regulation and deregulation, the Kent Bus Network and English National Concessionary Bus Travel Scheme (ENCBTS).
Mr Lightowler explained that a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) Operators Licence was required to run a bus or coach for hire and reward. He stated that buses had to meet the requirements of the Construction and Use Regulations and the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR). In addition all drivers were required to hold a Category D licence to drive vehicles with over 16 seats.
Mr Lightowler noted that driver working hours were governed by EU and domestic regulations. As part of the Operators’ Licence, Transport Managers were required to hold the accredited Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). Drivers were also required to hold the CPC which could be obtained following five days of training.
Mr Lightowler stated the operators of local bus services were also required to register with the Traffic Commissioners. He reported that between 1930 – 1985 the Area Traffic Commissioner acted a market regulator; they regulated bus services, based on competition levels on a route, need, sustainability and proposed timetable. The Traffic Commissioners also had the power to determine route, timings, vehicle type and fares. He noted that since 1985 operators have been able to register a local bus service with a PSV Operators’ Licence without any market oversight.
Q – If two operators are providing the same route, does the Traffic Commissioner have any powers to intervene?
A – Mr Lightowler explained that Traffic Commissioners were only allowed to intervene if there was a bus war such as blocking or agitation between drivers. He noted that the Traffic Commissioner had intervened, following extreme circumstances at Manchester Piccadilly, and introduced prescribed directions such as the number of buses per stop. He stated that bus operators were able to provide bus services on any roads except those prohibited by the Traffic Regulation Orders. He highlighted that bus operators had to provide KCC with a copy of its service registration but KCC was not able to determine the route, timetable, vehicle type or fares.
Q – If a bus operator implements a new route which goes down a road which has never had a bus stop, who is responsible for the new bus stop?
Mr Lightowler explained that KCC was responsible for the installation of new bus stops. He noted that bus stops would only be installed if it was considered to be a long term route and following the completion of public consultation and appropriate risk assessments.
Q – Can KCC decide where buses stop?
A – Mr Lightowler explained that KCC was only notified by the bus operators of the stops when they registered a route.
Mr Lightowler resumed his presentation about the Kent Bus ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
The Committee welcomed Mr Balfour to the meeting and invited him to answer questions from Members.
Mr Balfour stated that the Committee was a useful vehicle and he hoped that there would be recommendations on a better way to use the Kent pound to provide transport for the people of Kent. He was not convinced about the County Council entering into the bus market but, it would be up to the Committee to try to convince him if that is what they concluded. He would welcome a recommendation relating to Community Bus Services such as the one between Wormshill and Sittingbourne.
Q – What is the situation regarding Members using their Community Grant a support a community bus service. Surely it is not possible to provide year on year funding from a Members grant?
Mr Balfour reminded the Committee that the Members Grant scheme criteria were determined by KCC Members.
Q – If Members Community Grants continue to be cut year on year we may have to look at another way of funding Community Buses?
Mr Balfour reminded Members that it was in the County Council’s gift to decide how Kent could do this. The Committee could consider how to do this e.g it could recommend putting money into Community Bus schemes, this would be a budget issue rather than a Member Grant issue. It might be better to for example provide a community with a bus to operate and to subsidise it from the Council. However, KCC was dealing with increasing pressures on its budget so money spent on community buses would need to be taken from another part of the budget.
Q – In relation to the recent consultation on KCC Funded Bus Services, there were only 454 responses, please comment on this level of response.
Mr Balfour explained that this consultation was aimed at users of specific services and not all Kent residents.
Q – As the Cabinet Member you know where the complaints about bus services are coming from and the key issues. At the current level of provision what are we getting right, what needs to be improved and how can this be achieved?
Mr Balfour replied that a lot of the complaints were specific, for example bad provision relation to school buses. This type of issue about school buses seem to be raised at the start of the school year and the issues often arose due to KCC receiving inaccurate information from schools on required bus capacity, this was usually resolved in the early weeks of the school year.
Mr Balfour also said that changes made to bus routes particularly KCC subsidised bus routes produce letters of concern. A bus may be taken away but often it was not a KCC bus route. Mr Lightowler and his team dealt with these matters and he would expect them to involve the local member(s) to consider providing other provision but he would not want this to add to the budget cost.
Mr Balfour suggested that one ... view the full minutes text for item 5.