Council keeps £850,000 bus statistics secret

Norfolk County Council have refused a request from the Eastern Daily Press to hand over a league table of the best and worst performing bus routes in Norfolk compiled by a state-of-the-art tracking system.

The council has spent £850,000 on Busnet – which tracks the performance of 330 Norfolk bus routes – but rejected a request made under the Freedom of Information Act to hand over the data because to do so could "prejudice the commercial interests" of the council and the bus company.

The council also argued that by sharing its results it could encourage people to use cars by putting them off using poorly performing services.

Maureen Orr, the council's FOI officer for planning and transportation, told the EDP: "Should service ‘XX' be identified as running unreliably, passengers could choose to use another service of leave public transport altogether. It could also increase congestion and have environmental impact if more cars enter the network."

Norfolk MP Norman Lamb told the paper that the reasons the council gave for not disclosing the information are "precisely the reasons why the public ought to know".

He said: "If you look at the trains where one has an obligation to disclose its statistics, it's been a very effective way of applying pressure to improve the performance. To keep it confidential is bizarre in the extreme."

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