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Buses and electric cars feature in Queen’s Speech

Air quality could be boosted under proposals on buses and electric cars contained in the Queen’s speech

Electric cars and buses featured in the the Queen’s Speech today with potential positive implications for air quality.

Her Majesty said: “In England, further powers will be devolved to directly elected mayors, including powers governing local bus services.” And, on electric cars, the Queen said: “My ministers will ensure the United Kingdom is at the forefront of technology for new forms of transport, including autonomous and electric vehicles.”

Manchester buses

More powers for mayors could see cities, such as Manchester, gain Transport for London style control over transport including buses

Electric

The government has said that the measures on electric cars, which which will feature in a “Modern Transport Bill” will put Britain at the forefront of the modern transport revolution, “so that we create new jobs and fuel economic growth around the country”. It will include:

  •  legislation to enable the future development of the UK’s first commercial spaceports
  •  new laws to make the UK ready to pioneer driverless cars
  •  new rules to bring safe commercial and personal drone flight for households and businesses a step closer

Buses

On buses, in England, further powers will be devolved to directly elected mayors, including powers governing local bus services.  This devolvement of powers could have important knock-on implications for urban areas, such as Manchester.

The government said that the purpose of the Bill is:

  • To give elected mayors and local transport authorities the power to improve bus services for the people who use them.
  • Mayoral combined authorities would be given London-style powers to franchise local services.
  • Data about routes, fares and times would be made available across the country to app developers to give passengers better information about how to make the most of local bus services.

Coordination

Cities through the mayors could start to develop transport operations more akin to those organised in London by Transport for London. Such a move might allow for greater coordination of bus and other transport services allowing for air quality to be targeted as one of the aspects of a transport programme.

The government noted that local buses outside of London account for 73% (26,200) of the total number of buses within England (35,800).

And, competition for the running of bus services is another aspect of the Bill. The government said: “There are over 800 bus operators in England, but head to head competition is limited. In its local bus market investigation (in 2011), the Competition Commission found that many local markets are highly concentrated, with the five largest bus operators running 69% of all local bus services.”

Wales

Further powers are proposed for Wales in the Queen’s Speech including on transport. It is proposed to “Make Welsh devolution stronger by devolving important powers to the National Assembly for Wales over energy, transport and elections in Wales.”

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