Vision Bus could be one of the big losers from franchising. Optare Solo SR WK11 AOZ departs Wigan on a tendered service on February 11, 2023. The bus was new to Western Greyhound.

The successful winners for the first tranche of the Bee Network have been announced to great fanfare.

Franchising was originally proposed in Tyne and Wear in 2015, but of course it’s not franchising as we generally understand it. It’s nationalisation without compensation, probably illegal under EU law, but the large bus companies decided not to oppose it when it came on the statute books. Why? Because at the time the PLCs were still hooked on winning rail franchises and I suspect they thought upsetting the government might preclude them from winning further competitions.

Tyne and Wear produced a proposal, and in the rules for getting a franchise there was a review mechanism for outside scrutiny, headed by the highly competent North Eastern Traffic Commissioner, Kevin Rooney. He examined the proposals and found them to be poorly thought out, not properly costed and a waste of public money, so they did not proceed further.

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