Roll Up Roll Up…….Summit Is Underway
Well as I anticipated the UK Bus Summit lived right up to my expectations with what was an excellent day of debate and questions and actually probably left me thinking of more questions than answers, but I do not believe that to be a bad thing if honest.
It started as you would expect bang on time at 0900 with an address by the affable Transport Minister Andrew Jones MP who galloped through his speech with much gusto as he was in a hurry to catch a train up north, where he had as he put it himself to take some no doubt non controversial decisions about HS2 which is also a hot potato in his locker.
He made all the right noises I thought about all the great things that the bus did for society, and he talked at how very impressed he was with the ingenuity and innovation that the Industry displayed.He then talked about the progress being made with the buses bill, including the desire to focus on Quality Contracts as they work so well in different places.However, he also made it clear that franchising would remain an option if Local Authorities thought it best that they could serve the public interest better than local Bus Companies.
It was very interesting when he was asked by my old friend and activist Roger French OBE, what he was going to do about compensating bus Company owners who would be left penniless if Local Authority leaders decided to run the buses themselves. A great and a fair question and in truth Andrew struggled to answer it as there is no answer.
So, as it happened the Minister legged it at 0930 and then the excellent host of the day Professor David Begg stepped up to the plate and got things rolling with some very good reflections on the real cost of congestion and how it is possibly going to kill off the UK Bus industry.
I really enjoy listening to David he is really intelligent, articulate and funny guy and he just makes the event tick, it is his domain and he rules it. And my advise is if you get a chance to hear him in action do yourself a favor as it is like watching a masterclass.