The conflict between competition policy and the wider role of the local bus industry in Britain


Peter R. White

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - europe, organisation - contracting, organisation - performance, organisation - regulation, policy - fares, operations - coordination


Buses, Deregulation, Competition, Great Britain, Co-ordination


Since the Transport Act of 1985, the local bus industry in Britain (outside London and Northern Ireland) has been subject to deregulation, removing previous restrictions on routes, service levels and fares. This also marked a reversal of the previous emphasis on co-ordination of services provided by different operators, and introduced competition law as applying to other industries to the local bus sector. This has been in conflict with other policy objectives aimed at stimulating greater use of public transport, such as harmonisation of ticketing systems. The underlying issues are examined, and recent changes in policy. The Local Transport Act of 2008 offers an opportunity to resolve some of these problems, and its application in Oxford is discussed as the first substantial example to date. However, a strong conflict remains between the role of competition agencies and other aspects of policy.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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