The doughnut theory of the universe is an informal description of the shape of the universe as a three-dimensional torus. Doughnut theory also applies to the idea that some policies have a big hole in the middle.
Even a casual observer of the impact of bus deregulation would reckon on bus policy of the last few decades having a cavernous strategic hole. Riders in East Lothian might be forgiven for thinking that there wasn’t a bus transport policy rather a free-for-all. But is this all about to change?
We have received confirmation that East Lothian Council is about to convene a Local Bus Group. After lobbying from RELBUS – who were concerned there wasn’t a forum for the discussion of bus strategy and policy – ELC Councillor Michael Veitch consulted with various interested parties.
Councillor Veitch concluded that:
it is the view of the Council that there is merit in establishing a Local Bus Group, based on the successful Local Rail Group which the Council have been hosting for a number of years.
It is anticipated that the group would meet around three times a year at the Council offices here in Haddington, probably on a Tuesday morning. Meetings would be chaired by myself, or in my absence, by another elected member.
The main purpose of the group would be to bring together everyone who is tasked with securing better bus services in East Lothian, namely operators, campaigners/user groups, politicians (local and national), community councillors, SESTRAN and East Lothian Council.
Our aim would be to discuss matters of shared interests and identify solutions to obstacles in securing the best possible bus services for local people.
The success of the Local Rail Group is largely down to the fact that it is focused on a specific aim, namely the introduction of a local rail service to Dunbar/Berwick and the re-opening of East Linton and Reston stations. Likewise, for the Bus Group to be of maximum benefit, it would be necessary for discussions to be focused on specific issues of collective interest. To that end it is proposed that all substantial items for the agenda be submitted to myself no later than two weeks before the subsequent meeting, so that a comprehensive agenda detailing the issues to be discussed can be distributed in advance to all participants.
I am delighted that the operators have agreed to take part in the group, which I believe is crucial to the success of the group. This does however mean that certain issues will be ‘off-limits’ due to restrictions imposed by competition rules whenever different operators meet together. This would be discussed in more detail at the first meeting.
The proposed date for the first meeting, part of which would involve a general discussion about the sort of issues the group could discuss, is:
Tuesday 27th November at 10am
In anticipation RELBUS are preparing to table items for discussion. If you have any ideas for how we might take things forward at the first meeting, please let us know by the end of October at the latest. We reckon that there will some activity in between meetings too and that greater consultation will be a feature of the new way of working. Watch this space.