Passenger transport executive

Passenger transport executive

In the United Kingdom, passenger transport executives (PTEs) are local government bodies which are responsible for public transport within large urban areas. They are accountable to bodies called integrated transport authorities (ITAs) which were formerly known as passenger transport authorities (PTAs) prior to 2008 and the Local Government Act 2008.


Current structure

There are currently five PTEs in England, for each of the following metropolitan counties.

Metropolitan county Brand name PTE
Merseyside Merseytravel Merseyside PTE
South Yorkshire Travel South Yorkshire South Yorkshire PTE
Tyne and Wear Nexus Tyne and Wear PTE
West Midlands Centro West Midlands PTE
West Yorkshire Metro West Yorkshire PTE

In Scotland, the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, formerly Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive, covers the former region of Strathclyde, which includes the urban area around Glasgow. A similar body, Transport for London, exists in Greater London.

In shire county areas, similar functions are carried out by county councils.

The PTEs are represented by the Passenger Transport Executive Group (PTEG) with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and Transport for London are both associate members of PTEG.

The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive was replaced by a new body Transport for Greater Manchester on 1 April 2011.


The first PTEs and PTAs were established in the late 1960s by the Transport Act 1968 as transport authorities serving large conurbations, by the then transport minister Barbara Castle. Prior to this, public transport was run by individual local authorities and private companies, with little co-ordination. The PTEs took over municipal bus operations from individual councils, and became responsible for managing local rail networks.

The 1968 Act created five PTE/As. These were:

  • West Midlands on 1 October 1969
  • SELNEC (South East Lancashire North East Cheshire) on 1 November 1969 (now Greater Manchester)
  • Merseyside on 1 December 1969
  • Tyneside on 1 January 1970 (now Tyne and Wear)
  • Greater Glasgow on 1 June 1973 (now Strathclyde)

Initially they covered slightly different areas to the ones they cover today. Local government in England was re-organised in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972. The re-organisation created the six metropolitan counties, and the existing four English PTEs were named after, and made to match the borders of the new counties (for example West Midlands PTE was expanded to take on Coventry and Tyneside PTE expanded to include Sunderland becoming Tyne and Wear PTE in the process). In addition to this, two new PTEs were created for the newly established metropolitan counties of South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.

The 1974 reorganisation also abolished the PTAs, and their role was taken over by the Metropolitan county councils (MCCs). However when the MCCs were abolished in 1986, the PTAs were re-created.

Local government re-organisation in Scotland in 1975 created the region of Strathclyde, and the existing Greater Glasgow PTE was named after, and made to cover the new region.

Until the mid-1980s the PTEs operated bus services in their areas, but bus deregulation by the Transport Act 1985 forced the PTAs to sell their bus fleets to private operators. They were also stripped of their powers to regulate the fares and timetables of private bus operators.

Local Transport Act 2008

A number of changes to PTE/As were made under the Local Transport Act 2008.[1] The main changes made were be:

  • Passenger transport authorities (PTAs) have been renamed as integrated transport authorities (ITAs) although PTEs would retain their current names.
  • The bill would allow for the possibility of new PTEs being created, and for the areas of existing ones to be altered.
  • The bill has strengthened the powers of PTEs/ITAs to regulate bus services, and would make ITAs the sole transport planning authorities in their areas.


  • The ITAs are now responsible for subsidising bus services which are not profitable to run but are considered socially necessary, and the PTEs organise this role on their behalf. They are also responsible for providing bus shelters and stations.
  • Most PTEs do not operate public transport services. There are limited number of cases where they do - the Tyne and Wear PTE operates the Tyne and Wear Metro, and Strathclyde Passenger Transport operates the Glasgow Subway. In Merseyside, Strathclyde and Tyne and Wear, some ferry services are operated by the PTEs.
  • The PTEs, on the ITAs' behalf, have retained more powers over local train services, which they do not operate but are responsible for setting fares and timetables of.
  • The PTEs are also responsible for planning and funding new public transport facilities, such as light rail systems and new stations.
  • They fund concessionary travel schemes for the elderly and disabled including free passes and "Dial-a-Ride" services.
  • They are also responsible for giving out travel information about transport services.

In recent years the PTEs and ITAs have campaigned to be given more powers to regulate local bus services, as is the case in London (see London Buses).

Integrated transport authorities

The integrated transport authorities (ITAs) from 2008 onwards are the bodies which administer the executives; they are made up of councillors representing the areas served by the PTEs. They are responsible for funding the PTEs, and making the policies which the PTEs carry out on their behalf. PTEs secure services on behalf of the ITA but it is the ITA that pays for them.

In the six metropolitan counties, councillors are appointed to the ITAs by the metropolitan boroughs, or in the case of Strathclyde by the twelve unitary authority councils in the area.

The ITAs are not "precepting authorities", so they have to negotiate a "levy" every year that is applied to council tax collected by the local authorities in the areas that they serve. The executive usually requests a budget and the council representatives on the ITAs negotiate from this position.

It is worth bearing in mind that PTEs do not, strictly speaking, own anything - their role is a statutory one to provide services using the resources provided to them by the ITAs. Whilst such a structure might appear to allow an ITA to sack its respective PTE, this is not permitted.

Passenger Transport Executive Group

The Passenger Transport Executive Group (PTEG) is a federated body that brings together and promotes the interests of the six PTEs in England, plus associated members Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and Transport for London.

PTEG's main tasks are facilitating the exchange of knowledge and good practice within the PTE network, and raising awareness nationally about the key transport challenges which face the city regions, and the public transport solutions which PTEs are implementing.

PTEG's strategy and policy is determined by the Directors General of the PTEs, who meet at least quarterly. PTEG also administers a number of task groups and committees which bring together professionals from the PTEs, SPT and TfL to focus on specific policy areas and to share expertise and good practice. The PTEG Support Unit, based in Leeds, co-ordinates PTEG's activities and acts as a central point of contact.

Foreign countries

  • Transit district is a similar type of organisation in the United States.
  • In Germany there are similar types of organisations for the big cities with surroundings, called Verkehrsverbund. They handle both bus and rail bound traffic.
  • In Sweden there are similar types of organisations, called Länstrafikbolag, one per county. All handle bus traffic and most also train traffic, and sometimes boat traffic. For some counties there are separate organisations for train traffic covering several counties.

See also


  1. ^ Local Transport Bill - From

External links

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