ATCO Consultation response
ATCO has responded to the recent DfT consultation on accessible information -
Consultation on Accessible Information:
Response from the Association of Transport Coordinating Officers
The Association of Transport Coordinating Officers (ATCO) fully supports the proposal to use powers in the Bus Services Act 2017 to require the provision of audible and visible information on local bus services in Great Britain as defined in the Transport Act 1985.
Few operators have taken the opportunity to provide this to date; it is generally provided by those that seek to provide a high quality of service to the passenger. For most operators, the capital and ongoing costs have led to the decision that these costs will not be matched by increased revenue, and therefore the financial impact takes precedence over quality of service. It is therefore necessary for legislation to achieve implementation – using the Bus Service Operator’s Grant mechanism could achieve speedier introduction.
Therefore, in supporting the Government’s wish, ATCO is of the view that the capital and ongoing cost should be met by central Government. It is unreasonable to expect existing fare paying passengers to meet the cost, and without central Government funding the commercial network may reduce and costs of financially supported services provided by local authorities will increase or cease to be provided. Smaller operators may exit the local bus market, leading to increased costs to provide local authority supported bus services.
ATCO supports an exemption for heritage vehicles, minibuses, services operating under a Section 19 permit and small vehicles operating under a Section 22 permit. The proposal that vehicles designed to carry less than 17 passengers should be exempt is supported and those that operate newer vehicles are more likely to be able to absorb the costs of providing the information. There is no evidence that using the equipment for advertising would be attractive to the market due to the relatively small number of people who would see the advertisement and it may cause confusion with information being provided that is not relevant. From a practical point of view, announcements should be made when the doors have closed and the bus is moving.
It is imperative that the final specification is deliverable and proportionate to the benefit. It is therefore essential that the Government follows the recommendations of the bus industry, represented by its trade organisation, the Confederation of Passenger Transport.