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Government plans to deny bus users an independent complaints body

6 October 2008
Campaign for Better Transport is today asking the new transport secretary to reverse the previous secretary’s decision on who should deal with bus passenger complaints.

The Government plans to create a new statutory bus passenger watchdog that – unlike the rail passenger watchdog - won’t help people when they are unhappy with a company’s response to their complaint. [1]

Instead, the Government wants the industry-funded Bus Appeals Body to continue dealing with complaints appeals about bus companies. [2]

Campaign for Better Transport is concerned that Passenger Focus (the new watchdog) will lack credibility if it doesn’t deal with complaints appeals, and that the Bus Appeals Body is not independent, well known or passenger friendly.

Cat Hobbs, the public transport campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, says bus passengers deserve better:

“People who’ve had problems with their bus service won’t be happy if this new watchdog can’t help them out. The new transport secretary must realize that bus passengers are not second-class citizens; they deserve the same as rail passengers.”

Notes to editors

[1] The new statutory bus passenger watchdog, Passenger Focus, already deals with rail users’ complaints appeals but the Government isn’t prepared to fund it to provide the same service for bus users.

[2] The Government is currently in a process of ‘stakeholder dialogue’ to establish how Passenger Focus should represent bus passengers. It plans to review complaint-handling in April 2009 but its official position is still that the new watchdog will not deal with complaints appeals. See for example, paragraphs 16-19 of Options for strengthening bus passenger representation: Consultation paper (closed 17 March 2008): “We do not propose that [Passenger Focus] should assume the complaints handling roles for buses as it does for rail passengers..."