Freedom from licensing for rural buses?
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• A hint that the Government expects improvements in country bus services came in the House of Lords last week.
During discussion of the National Bus Company, Viscount Addison commented that bus companies in Devon seemed to have suspended operation, and was told by Government spokesman Lord Mowbray and Stourton: "I think the noble Viscount will find that this will soon not be the case".
Earlier he had said that the Minister for Transport Industries would probably announce this month the result of the rural bus studies—"and I hope he will have some comments which the House will find interesting". • Lord Mowbray and Stourton added that the Government was looking at the licensing system, and would be coming forward with suggestions for this in the future.
Lord Teynham noted that the NBC had made a loss of £8million in the last financial year, and had had a Government loan of £6m to cover cash needs for 1971, and he suggested that these buses should be denationalized and handed over to a combination of local authorities and private enterprise.
The withdrawal of many bus services from country districts and the failure of local authorities to carry out the terms of the Transport Act 1968 meant that very many villages had become completely isolated, said Lord Teyn ham. Could small, enterprising operators be released from the restrictions imposed by the Traffic Commissioners, he asked.
Lord Mowbray and Stourton replied that 1970 had been a bad year for most bus operators. He was informed that the current year was showing better results for the NBC, and that so far it had been necessary for only £2m of the £6m loans available to be taken up.