Travelcard will survive London bus deregulation

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The Independent Online
A TRAVELCARD scheme would be retained in London after buses were deregulated, Steven Norris, the Minister for Transport in London, promised yesterday, writes Christian Wolmar.

Addressing the Commons Select Committee on Transport, Mr Norris said: 'We want to make sure that a travelcard system, if we can use that generic term, is maintained.'

The Government has announced its intention to deregulate buses in London in line with services outside the capital, which were opened up in 1986, but no date for the legislation has been set.

The travelcard is a single ticket used for rail, tube and bus and offers a significant discount for those making several journeys on one day or buying a ticket for a week or more.

Last month, doubts about its future arose when London Transport told the committee that deregulating the capital's buses would make administration of the card impossible as the new multitude of private operators would be unable to agree on sharing revenue.

Mr Norris said that technology would allow operators to record each passenger using the bus. He also said it would be essential for operators of one-person buses that most passengers pre-pay through some type of card system. He suggested that rules could be imposed to limit the number of operators.

Mr Norris's assurances went further than previous commitments on the travelcard, which is used by three million people every week, but they still failed to satisfy Labour MPs on the committee, who pressed him to retain the existing system.