|The application form available today on the DaFT website (note the date at the top)|
The Department for Transport's official abbreviation is DfT, but sometimes (quite a lot of the time actually) it appears to live up to its unofficial acronym DaFT!
One such example has just come to light with a significant change to the procedure that bus operators must follow to notify changes to their services being introduced with no notice whatsoever, not even to the government body responsible for processing applications!
Bus industy publication Bus and Coach Buyer reported:
Stone King: ‘operators caught out’
BUG Chair, Jim Davies commented:
"Although the bus industry is often described as "deregulated", in practice it is subject to a number of restrictions on the way it operates, not all of which act in the interest of passengers. Previously, operators had to give 56-days notice to the Traffic Commissioners and local authorities of their intention to start, end or alter bus services. Part of the reason for this was to allow local councils to evaluate the changes and to decide, in the case of a service reduction or withdrawal, whether to organise a replacement service. However, with more and more councils, including Cumbria and Lancashire, deciding not to replace withdrawn buses as a matter of policy this has become less and less relevant. But the notice period applies equally to operators wishing to make improvements to timetables or introduce new services. In these cases the notice period was designed to protect other bus companies who may be running similar services and to allow them time to respond, but the reality these days is that such instances of on-road competition are few and far between. The main effect of the notice period is therefore to delay the introduction of improvements unnecessarily. That 56 days has now been extended potentially to 70 days and operators will in effect have to make two separate applications - one to the traffic commissioner and one to the council. It also introduces a degree of uncertainty as to when a proposed change will be approved, depending as it now will on the speed of response of the local authority.
Irrrespective of the merits of the revised procedure it is almost beyond belief that a responsible government department could make such a significant change to procedure WITHOUT TELLING ANYONE AT ALL!