TCs supporting operators during funding uncertainty
As uncertainty abounds over whether there will be continued financial support for buses from the government after March, the Traffic Commissioners (TCs) have stepped in to issue their support for the sector.
The Office of the Traffic Commissioners (OTC) understands the uncertainty over funding may result in operators choosing to cancel or vary service registrations before a final decision on funding has been made.
TCs outline they will be considering every application for short notice cancellations and variations of registrations on their individual merit in accordance with legislative grounds. However, they have issued a statement saying that as a starting point it is likely that a Traffic Commissioner will find the current uncertainty around the funding available beyond March 2023 in England and Wales as meeting the statutory test as set out in Regulation 7(2)(h) of the 1986 Regulations as circumstances exist that could not have reasonably been foreseen. This is on the basis that an operator could not have reasonably been expected to take the required action without knowledge of what funding was likely to be available beyond March 2023.
A TC considering and granting a request for short notice dispensation for these reasons, will adopt a starting position that the 42-day notice period (England) and 56-day notice period (Wales) will be reduced to 28 days
A TC considering and granting a request for short notice dispensation for these reasons, will adopt a starting position that the 42-day notice period (England) and 56-day notice period (Wales) will be reduced to 28 days. This reduced notice period reflects the impact on the travelling public caused by a short notice cessation of services.
If an operator submits an application to vary or cancel a service and then, subsequently, wishes to reverse or change that registration further following agreement for funding, a new application for registration or variation is required to be submitted to a traffic commissioner. The operator should apply for short notice dispensation, either, under the ground of ‘unforeseen circumstances’, or the replacement of a substantially similar service.
Once a decision on funding is agreed in respective jurisdictions these provisions will be reviewed
Once a decision on funding is agreed in respective jurisdictions these provisions will be reviewed. Additional time will be allowed for operators to submit applications to take into account the level of funding available.
This approach only applies where the registration function is undertaken by a Traffic Commissioner.
It does not apply to any registration where the local authority has already assumed responsibility under an Enhanced Partnership Scheme. Operators in these areas should contact the relevant local authority for advice.
For services in an area covered under a transitional notice for franchising, the operator should seek advice from: