Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

organisation - regulation, mode - bus


United Kingdom, Regulations, Motor bus transportation, Intercity bus transportation, Great Britain, Bus transportation


Public transport in Britain has traditionally operated under conditions of regulation. The 1930 Road Traffic Act imposed controls upon the quantity and quality of transport regulations, with an abolition of the quantity controls associated with inter-city coach services. The principal objectives of the Act were to eliminate restriction upon entry to the market and to promote competition between coach operators. This paper is based on research which was undertaken to establish the impact of the 1980 Transport Act upon express (inter-city) coach services in Britain. The effects of the legislation are examined in relation to the experience of various coach operators, British Rail, and the inter-city traveller. This provides evidence of the way in which the supply of, and demand for, public transport behaves in a competitive, deregulated environment. It is shown that at least in net terms, the consumer has enjoyed short-term benefits. Greater uncertainty surrounds the long-term situation. The main competition has been confined to the principal trunk routes and has taken place between the state-owned undertaking of National Express and British Rail. The outcome of deregulation for the private sector has been disappointing. The paper identified similarities which exist between inter-city and local public transport services. In this context, the lessons derived from express deregulation are employed to suggest likely developments in the deregulation of stage carriage (local) services in Britain.