First Bristol bus operator's restrictions removed

Bus in Bristol Image copyright First Group
Image caption The restrictions were applied to First Bristol in 1989

Restrictions on bus operator First Bristol which were put in place almost 30 years ago have been removed.

It means the firm no longer has to abide by out-of-date rules concerning competition of bus service contracts.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the restrictions should end due to a change in circumstances.

The controls were originally implemented following the merger of two local bus companies, Badgerline and Midland Red West, in 1989.

They were imposed by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC), which is now the CMA, on the merged company, now called FirstGroup, due to fears the new firm could have too strong a bargaining position with the council.

The original restrictions included a cap on the amount of money the company could receive from the local authority for running a tendered service, and a requirement to return any excess profit.

The CMA review, which started in January, found FirstGroup's "share of tendered bus services in the region has reduced significantly since the MMC report".

A First Bus spokesperson said they welcomed the decision.

"Neither the original undertakings themselves nor the consequences of this decision impact the way we provide bus services in Bristol and the wider West of England region," they added.

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