Last reviewed 29 March 2021
The Public Transport Ticketing Scheme Block Exemption specifies that certain forms of agreement between transport operators are exempt from the prohibition on anticompetitive agreements in the Competition Act 1998.
The agreements in question are those which allow operators to integrate their ticketing systems, meaning that consumers can buy a single ticket for use on the services of multiple operators.
These agreements are generally seen as beneficial and the aim of introducing the Block Exemption was to encourage their use.
First made in 2001, it was extended for further five year periods in 2005 and 2011 before being extended until 2026 when it was reviewed in 2016. At that point, it was amended to require that the Business Secretary report, in 2021, on the extent to which the Exemption is achieving its objectives.
In this context, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched a Call for evidence to inform the proposed report. Full details can be found — here — and the deadline for responses is 24 May 2021.
In respect of bus transport, the Government has recently launched a national strategy setting out the vision and opportunity to deliver better bus services for passengers across England (see “New bus strategy is most ambitious reform in a generation”).
The Government regards the integration of ticketing between transport operators as an important part of the quality of the transport system.
The Block Exemption is therefore an important part of the Government’s policy to support strong transport networks. There are indications that multi-operator ticketing is relatively widespread and provides benefits to consumers.
The most recent TAS Partnership National Bus Fares Survey (2019) found that 77% of all sample journeys in the survey had a multi-operator alternative, although this varied between markets and region.