Whilst on the subject of government, the DfT has published a series of guidance documents relating to the creation of advanced quality bus partnerships and how local authorities can establish franchise schemes. The aim is to bring more stability into the provision of bus services. The government, in particular, is keen on the partnership approach which has been successfully adopted in a number of local authority areas in Britain. With the increasing decline in bus service provision in Herefordshire, surely Herefordshire Council should, at least. Closely examine the possibilities of a partnership agreement with operators. Ever the optimist, perhaps they are!
The Council’s policy is to concentrate on the provision of a core network of main routes connecting the market towns with Hereford to the detriment of interstitial rural services. However, the signs of problems on the core network are becoming evident. The latest is, yet again, the downgrading of the Hereford-Bromyard-Worcester 420 service by the operator by the withdrawal of the early morning service. This service has been steadily pruned since the local operator took over from FirstBus, primarily on the basis of individual journey analysis rather than considering the service as part of a full day operation. Such fragmentation of business was predominant during the days of the National Bus Company in the 1970s which eventually led to its privatisation and the deregulation of bus services in the 1980s. Strangely today it is the private companies that are making the same mistake. Perhaps the government has awoken to the fact that the de-regulation system is no longer appropriate and perhaps Herefordshire Council will live up to its motto ‘Working in partnership for the people of Herefordshire’.