BUS operators are being asked to help Nexus develop a system of bus franchising for the Tyne and Wear area.
The initiative – known as a quality contracts scheme – on behalf of the Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) runs alongside the option of improving the local bus system by working in much closer partnership with bus companies.
Nexus is also continuing talks with the operators’ negotiating body the North East Bus Operators’ Association NEBOA to develop a partnership.
The ITA and Nexus are working with the five local authorities in Tyne and Wear to explore potential change to the way local buses are provided in order to improve services for local people and make sure they are sustainable and affordable in the years ahead.
Nexus director general Bernard Garner said: “We have developed a working draft for a quality contracts scheme, and we are now asking bus operators, their employees and neighbouring authorities to help us make sure we have taken everything into account.
“Our effort to date has focussed on making fares simple and affordable, and on increasing peoples’ access to frequent services.
“We believe that what we have designed so far is affordable without needing extra public funds, and meets the ITA’s policy objectives to grow passenger numbers and peoples’ ability to access bus services from where they live.
“We are evaluating two different options to improve bus services, and I am in regular contact with NEBOA to develop a partnership.
“NEBOA has put forward a discussion document that is a very good starting point for negotiation, with both sides committed to achieving a ground-breaking partnership.
“Members of NEBOA have held a constructive discussion with ITA Members, and so I look forward to a positive outcome from this piece of work.”
The ITA will hear a formal update on progress on the whole Bus Strategy Delivery Project at its September meeting.