The humble bus is still responsible for more passenger journeys than any other form of public transport, but years of state control and neglect led to people abandoning it by the carriageload.
With the arrival of new, more local, more innovative private bus companies, it seems that people are coming back to the bus. According to our report Deregulated Decade, this fightback has been 'truly remarkable', with buses emerging from a long period of managed decline to become market-led, quality minded, and capable of ending three decades of loss of custom to the car. And yet, local authorities want to continue to run them. The 'franchise' arrangement means that local councillors decide where and when buses should run, even what colour they should be painted, rather than allowing innovation and competition to respond to passenger needs. See our report Don't Stop the Bus for more details. And what of London's Underground system? Our paper Underground Revolution argues that the government's part-privatization scheme just adds complication where none is needed. Splitting operations and track does not make sense for such a small network. So why not divide the Tube into three or four separate units and let private operators show what they can do?