The OFT has published an updated version of its 'frequently asked questions on competition law and the bus industry,' providing guidance on interaction between competitors, ticketing, fares and procedures for bringing complaints and seeking advice.
On 5 December 2005, the Competition Act 1998 (Public Transport Ticketing Schemes Block Exemption) (Amendment) Order 2005 (SI 2005/3347) was made. This Order amends the Competition Act 1998 (Public Transport Ticketing Schemes Block Exemption) Order 2001 (SI 2001/319) (the block exemption) which provides a block exemption from the application of Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 to certain public transport ticketing schemes for local public transport services. A guidance note on frequently asked question was published to provide answers to questions that commonly arise relating to the application of competition law to the bus industry.
In July the OFT published a provisional updated version of these guidelines which can be found on the OFT's website. The guidelines covers issues such as the following:
- Competition law and the bus industry – answers questions on why competition law applies to the bus industry and how the application of competition law fits in with the government's policy to promote bus usage.
- Ticketing and fares – answers various questions about the legality under competition law of different types of ticketing schemes. It explains the general scope of application of the block exemption, as revised. Some of the answers are stated to be interim answers, pending the publication of the final version of the revised guideline.
- Equal headways, common timetables and joint services – answers questions about issues such as the extent to which bus operators can reach agreements to co-ordinate timetable changes, the frequency of their services and the joint running of services.
- The Transport Act competition test and local authority tendering – answers certain questions concerning the competition test in the Transport Act 2000.
- Complaints about possible breaches of competition law – a brief explanation of how complaints about other operators can be brought to the OFT's attention. It also explains how a bus operator might be able to spot if a dominant operator in a particular area is acting in a predatory fashion, e.g. flooding a route with buses or charging unprofitably low fares, driving a rival from the market.