Traffic congestion caused by roadworks is a growing concern for operators in Liverpool, which has just announced its intention to franchise the city region’s bus network. Arriva North West BYD / Alexander Dennis 7011 (LJ67 DNY) passes through Old Swan.

With the gathering momentum behind franchising in many city regions and combined authority areas, I wonder whether we will soon have a year we cite as the year of reregulation.

This month we’ve seen the Liverpool City Region confirm it is to pursue franchising in Merseyside – to nobody’s surprise – and there are renewed rumblings in West Yorkshire and Glasgow. Debates are ongoing in Wales, and I know that the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority area has ambitions to bring it in.

I think the industry has grown more accepting of the idea, though as you’ll see on page 7, some resistance certainly remains, in the form of McGill’s fierce response to the possibility of franchising in Glasgow.

It has been put to me that Covid-19 has changed the perspective of many bus companies. With many operators struggling to restore passenger numbers to the levels seen in 2019, a guaranteed level of income from running franchised services suddenly seems a lot more attractive, even if it’s lower than what might be achieved in a commercial network.

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