On deregulated markets, such as in the UK except for London, partnership agreements made between operators and local authorities, which involve substantial investment by the operators and the adoption of legal framework and policies to make bus and coach travel easier for people by the local authorities, lead to an essential shift from cars to buses and coaches.
Examples: In Cambridge, working in partnership with Stagecoach, the Council has restricted traffic access to the historic core, developed park & ride sites and introduced parking restrictions on the key access route to the station. Stagecoach has introduced a fleet of new low-floor buses (costing GBP 7.8m) branded as the Citi network. The result is a doubling of bus passengers in 8 years.
In Peterborough, Town Bridge is a critical link in the local traffic network. The Council and Stagecoach forged a new partnership providing bus priorities on the approaches to the bridge and automatic number plate recognition to prevent abuse by motorists. The Council also upgraded its bus stops and Stagecoach has introduced a branded Citi network with a fleet of new low-floor buses (costing GBP 4.3m). The result has been a 40% increase in bus passengers in 4 years.
Another good partnership example can be found in Brighton. For many years, Brighton & Hove bus company and Brighton & Hove unitary authority have done a lot of work together. Basically, the council gives the buses lots of bus priority and in return the bus company continually invests in services, infrastructure and marketing. This long-standing, award winning relationship was crowned the 2009 Bus Operator of the Year at the UK Bus Awards.
North of Brighton, West Sussex County Council started developing a Bus Rapid Transit project, some years ago, known as Fastway, mainly to give airport workers better public transport links to and from Gatwick Airport. The scheme opened in 2003 and the council provided all the infrastructure, including some guided busway sections. Metrobus (a Go Ahead subsidiary) provides the buses, sets the fares, determines the frequencies and does all the marketing. This entire relationship is underpinned by a simple two-page agreement where it is agreed to meet some very broad quality thresholds. This relationship works mainly because the authority provides the infrastructure, and the operator, which takes all the revenue risk, is incentivized to keep improving the service.
Fastrack, the award-winning bus rapid transit system in North Kent in the UK, operated by Arriva on behalf of Kent County Council and Kent Thameside, is being delivered through one of the best examples of a public/private sector partnership. Since its launch, the system has carried more than three million passengers and is one of the leading UK examples of an innovative bus rapid transit system that can attract people away from the car.