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SYPTE Consultation a Distraction, Say First
Tuesday 10 January 2006
First today announced that it was extremely disappointed that South Yorkshire PTE was going out to consultation on a draft quality contract. Responding to a statement from SYPTE, Nicola Shaw, Managing Director of Firsts UK Bus Division, said:
" There is no need for this consultation -- indeed it is a distraction.
"The PTE are right when they say that there are three options for bus service delivery. What they fail to mention is that the third route via quality contracts is only permitted where the first two are failing.
"In the north Sheffield quality partnership area, First are not failing. In fact we have delivered our required network revision and part of the new vehicle commitment before any highway or bus stop works have begun. Unless this slow public sector delivery changes then bus users will be short changed.
"What we need to work on is improved delivery for passengers now. That vitally requires better bus priority measures to guarantee journey times to passengers. Time and time again people tell us that reliabillty is key to their use of buses.
"Quality contract / partnership or any other delivery arrangement between public and private sector would fail to address this issue without public sector delivery on the road networks in the form of bus priority and enforcement of bus lanes. Both the government and First want to see more people on buses -- both public and private sector need to deliver if we are to achieve that.
"This applies across the country. Quality contracts solve nothing - the real problem is tackling congestion and if that cannot be delivered by local authorities now why should it change under a quality contract?
"People are understandably concerned about fares rises in Sheffield. The reality is that they have only matched our costs increases. Whoever ran the buses would face the same pressures.
"We would urge the PTE to set this proposal aside and work with us to ensure delivery of the right bus priority measures that many other towns and cities enjoy. We owe it to passengers.'
Martin Helm, PR Advisor 07909 997 819
Rachael Borthwick, Head of Corporate Communications 020 7291 0508