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Delivery Chain Analysis for Bus Services in England (Prepared Jointly by the National Audit Office and the Audit Commission)

“The government’s target to reverse the long-term decline in bus use and achieve growth both nationally and in all regions is challenging. London is leading the way. If growth in all the regions is to be achieved, strong leadership from the Department of Transport will be essential, to build on its policies and encourage local transport authorities and operators to bring about the concerted action needed".

Audit Commission Chairman, James Strachan said:

“Buses are an important lifeline for many people and help reduce congestion in towns and cities. This has been recognised by targets to increase bus use. Our report analysed whether the best means have been adopted to achieve these targets. Success depends on many organisations working efficiently together. However what stands out is that where there is strong local leadership to increase the use of buses, as in London, the difference is real and the public notices it.”

Additional key findings:

Additional key recommendations:

As owner of the national target, the Department of Transport should:

At the same time, local transport authorities should:

General Information

NAO press enquiries: Barry Lester, Tel: 020 7798 7937 Mobile: 07748 181692

Audit Commission press enquiries: Amelia Dixon, Tel: 020 7166 2205 Mobile: 07716 098231

Sir John Bourn, the Comptroller and Auditor General and head of the National Audit Office

Notes for Editors

 

Additional key findings:

  • The Department for Transport drew up a detailed delivery plan and understood the risks to delivering its Public Service Agreement (PSA) target for passenger growth. The Department’s engagement with stakeholders outside London was weak, but has been strengthened. Its financial levers are limited to its decisions on capital funding for investments in transport infrastructure.

Additional key recommendations:

As owner of the national target, the Department of Transport should:

  • Share with all stakeholders in the delivery chain, the Department’s model and projections for the growth in bus use and information about the range of factors influencing delivery against the PSA target so that stakeholders understand the action they need to take if the target is to be met.
  • Follow through on its direct engagement with key authorities beyond the assessment of their second Local Transport Plans to identify, support and prompt vigorous action needed to achieve the target at both the national and regional level.
  • Further encourage district councils to work with neighbouring authorities in establishing county-wide concessionary fares schemes, and pilot with pathfinder authorities the operation of concessionary fares schemes across several counties or a region and the use of longer-term concessionary fare agreements with operators.
  • Work with selected pathfinder authorities to identify and demonstrate the scope for efficiencies to be made in adopting a more strategic approach to procurement of bus services in co-operation with neighbouring authorities.

At the same time, local transport authorities should:

  • Where they do not already do so, carry out periodic reviews of the bus networks in their areas and of the range of transport requirements for schools, local amenities, employment and social services, and assess how best to match demand for, and supply of, local public transport. As part of these reviews, authorities should consider the extent to which bus services are aligned with other developments such as housing, hospital and commercial developments within their areas, and set out how they will maintain such coherence through the period of their Local Transport Plans.
  • Agree the contributions that their respective metropolitan district councils and District Councils will make to delivery of the Local Transport Plans and local targets, including measures such as parking policy, implementation of highway schemes and planning decisions relating to strategic land use.
  • Work with bus operators and other key stakeholders, including local passenger groups, to address passengers’ principal concerns about improving the stability of bus timetables and routes, and the quality and reliability of services.
  • Review their unit cost of subsidy for supported bus services and the cost-effectiveness of their procurement approach and, where they are not already doing so, combine bus services, including school transport where possible, into larger packages and adopt longer-term contracts to be put out to tender, in order to achieve savings from economies of scale and administrative efficiencies.

General Information

  • More sophisticated outcome-focused services, better tailored to the diverse and local needs of the public, can rarely be achieved by one organisation alone; instead they require close partnership working between different organisations at national, regional and local levels. These relationships, ultimately linking the Cabinet minister to the frontline health worker, school teacher or police officer, have become known as the delivery chain, echoing the business concept which refers to the network of systems, processes and organisations through which strategic objectives are achieved.
  • This is the first of three joint studies on particular Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets by the NAO and the Audit Commission. The second will examine the building of more affordable homes. The third, undertaken in conjunction with the Healthcare Commission, will examine efforts to fight childhood obesity. The NAO and Audit Commission will also publish an overview report drawing out wider lessons.
  • Press notices and reports are available from the date of publication on the NAO website at www.nao.org.uk. Hard copies can be obtained from The Stationery Office on 0845 702 3474.
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General, Sir John Bourn, is the head of the National Audit Office which employs some 800 staff. He and the NAO are totally independent of government. He certifies the accounts of all Government departments and a wide range of other public sector bodies; and he has statutory authority to report to Parliament on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which departments and other bodies have used their resources.

NAO press enquiries: Barry Lester, Tel: 020 7798 7937
Mobile: 07748 181692
 

  • The Audit Commission is an independent body responsible for ensuring that public money is spent economically, efficiently and effectively, to achieve high quality local services for the public. Our remit covers around 11,000 bodies in England, which between them spend more than £180 billion of public money each year. Our work covers local government, health, housing, community safety and fire and rescue services.
  • As an independent watchdog, we provide important information on the quality of public services. As a driving force for improvement in those services, we provide practical recommendations and spread best practice. As an independent auditor, we ensure that public services are good value for money and that public money is properly spent.
    For further information about the Audit Commission, visit our website at www.audit-commission.gov.uk.

Audit Commission press enquiries: Amelia Dixon, Tel: 020 7166 2205
Mobile: 07716 098231

PN: 67/05