I’d not been aware that social and community transport is a hotbed of international competition, with companies from other EU countries queuing up for a piece of the action. Indeed, given the strength of the UK’s bus industry — Stagecoach, First Group and National Express are all international operations with the only strong overseas presence in the UK being French state owned Transdev and imminently German state owned Arriva — and community transport being almost by definition transport services that are highly unviable commercially, it would be amazing if that ever were to be the case. However, Swindon Borough Council seems to believe that European community bus operators will be queuing out the door if they put out to tender the service currently provided by Swindon Dial A Ride.
’Tis odd that Swindon Borough Council is happy to apply European competition law to a small non-commercial transport operation, yet elsewhere claims it’s irrelevant to giving almost £½M to a company launching a service in what’s already a highly competitive industry.
Update, 22:11 Thursday 27 May. Apparently, the EU regulation being used by the council is one specific to public transport rather than the general competition-related regulations originally thought. But it’s a regulation that specifically defines ‘public passenger transport’ to exclude services such as social dial-a-ride services.