The 1985 Transport Act de-regulated the operation of bus services in the UK.
Services would be operated on a commercial basis without a subsidy. Services
which were not commercially viable but considered by a Local Authority to be
required would be put out to tender and the successful operator awarded a
subsidy. This legislation ended the system of Road Service licensing for
local bus services set up in 1930 and replaced it by requiring operators
merely to register services with the Regional Traffic Commissioners, giving
42 days (now 56 days) notice.
An effect of the Act was that 'bus wars' took place, particularly in some of
the large towns and cities, to gain control of the most financially
attractive routes. These 'wars' involved large national operators and small
mostly local companies. Service frequencies were increased some fare
incentives offered to attract passengers. When a large company had gained
control, following withdrawal by other companies, frequencies were reduced
and the fare incentives discontinued.
Ipswich has been free of any major 'bus war' until 29 July 2012 when First
Group. Until recently the largest bus operator in the UK, launched a
campaign on routes serving parts of the east of the town. This took the form
of new services on routes very similar to those being operated by Ipswich
Buses, together with the complete withdrawal of existing services along some
roads. particularly in the evenings and on Sundays, and to a limited extent
at all times. Ipswich Buses responded to the attack by increasing
frequencies on some routes and the introduction of some modified and new
services [X3 to Ravenswood, X5 to the Hospital and 6A to Cliff Lane].
Another result is that with more buses using Tower Ramparts bus station, Park
& Ride services no longer stop there.
The present position is unsustainable with more than twenty buses an hour
operating between the town centre and one area of east Ipswich. The outcome