Technology developments mean that six-minute window may no longer be suitableThe Traffic Commissioners (TCs) have indicated that they will “review and modernise” the approach to measuring bus punctuality, opening the door to changes to the current six-minute window of tolerance.The potentially landmark news has been revealed in the TCs’ annual report for 2018-19 (see Big Story, p5-6).They say that while a “substantial consultation” in 2014-15 into bus punctuality measurement led to no changes, developments in technology mean that a new discussion about whether the current method remains fit for purpose is now needed.Tracking involvedThe industry and its stakeholders will be invited to contribute to the debate. One of the principal drivers behind it is the rapidly growing ability of passengers to track buses’ locations via an app or a website.“As part of our new strategy, we will review and modernise the approach to performance measurement and issue updated guidance for TCs, stakeholders and the industry,” says the report.It adds that, while the public perception may be that TCs neglect bus punctuality, it is “one of the most visible” parts of their work.“The volume of punctuality and reliability cases we see remains extremely low, partly as a consequence of changes to bus monitoring arrangements in England,” the report continues.Growing trendFigures show that in 2018-19, 13 Public Inquiries (PIs) were called for poor local bus service performance. Financial penalties were imposed in 11 of those cases. For the 12 previous months, eight such PIs were called. Financial penalties were levied in three of them.Under the current system operators are expected to run 95% of services no more than one minute early or five minutes late.Penalties can be imposed when that figure is not achieved, although one leading transport lawyer has questioned the relevance of the strict window and how it is applied to services that are exposed to variations in traffic density on different days.