Channel NewsAsia

Taking a closer look at the London bus system

The London bus contracting model was one of those that Singapore's Land Transport Authority studied before making the switch to a "contracting model". Channel NewsAsia takes a closer look into the London system.

LONDON: Buses have been used on the streets of the British capital since 1829, when a small businessman started operating a horse drawn omnibus service from Paddington to the heart of the city. Others quickly followed.

Today, there are 6,800 buses in London. The buses are owned by 14 private bus operators, who bid for contracts from Transport for London -- an organisation owned by the British government.

The companies bid to operate the various routes every five years, and are paid a flat fee per mile by transport for london.

Until the 1980s, bus companies were operated by government-owned companies. As with many other industries and services during the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher's government decided to privatise all the bus services.

This opened up local bus operation to private operators and forced municipal companies to operate independently on a commercial basis.

Transport for the elderly and young is subsidised by local councils.

While the situation is different in each part of the country, Transport for London receives around US$4 billion in subsidies per year as the fares do not cover operating costs.

While some Londoners feel that the buses are a great way to get about, not everyone is happy with the services, with several campaigns currently ongoing in an effort to improve the bus transport network across the city.

The buses of London roads may have their downsides, but for the many workers who live outside the city centre and have to travel miles into work, there are few alternatives. 

The London bus contracting model was one of those that Singapore's Land Transport Authority studied before making the switch to a "contracting model".

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