Go NE questions ‘evaporating’ contract scheme benefits
Go North East has questioned what it describes as the ‘evaporating’ benefits of the proposed bus contract scheme being scrutinised by north eastern England’s local authorities. The councillors are set to vote on the proposal on 21 October. Go North East MD, Kevin Carr, said, ‘We’ve always believed that risks and uncertainties of this unproven proposal were underestimated, and the benefits would evaporate as reality set in.’
When first presented in July 2013, the scheme promised savings of £7m a year, 18 extra buses and that a contingency fund of £78m would be adequate. In the revised scheme now being considered by the North East Combined Authority (NECA), the annual savings are now marked at £5m, the 18 extra buses have been scrapped and the contingency fund has increased to £80m.
Kevin Carr said, ‘Benefits for passengers have been revised downwards, too. The claim for fares reductions, described last year as being as much at 2.5%, now appear to be around 1%, but in reality all fares under the scheme would rise by at least 10p a year, far more than recent bus fare rises for most people. Despite Nexus’ claims to the contrary, the contract scheme creates new risks for our cash-strapped local councils, with no certainty of protecting Tyne and Wear’s bus system.’