will the F word come up smelling of roses?

Franchising seems to be the go-to buzzword now for those with any joint influence in the bus and political sectors.

From what we're being sold, it's the silver bus bullet to solve everything - whether you're in the biggest city or the smallest village.

Frequencies will be on the up, fares on the way down, congestion a distant memory, and everything joined up and run with the smoothness of Japan's rail network. Transport utopia meets the horizon of hope.

But is the hype believable and sustainable?

In the short-term, increased frequencies are probably a given. If there is an operator (highly likely to be the same one who currently runs your services on a commercial, 'trying to make a profit' basis) who has enough buses to cover what is required - then voila, that's political win number one.

And then there are fares. Made lower by your local authority (and heavily subsidised by your own taxes) to attract people on board. 

If you don't use the buses, tough luck. You still got to pay for them as you wanted them franchised, remember?

So, it looks like there may well be some positives but delve a little deeper and you realise increased frequencies and cheaper fares do not maketh a bus service on their own.

Who's going to solve the congestion issues? (The issues that mean services often suffer from poor reliability).

Who's providing all the advertising? (The advertising that helps get people on board the services).

Who's going to fund the pot of cash for operators to re-invest in their fleet? (The fleet that looks all shiny and sparkly with whizz-bangy gadgets on board).

Who's going to pay for it all? (Sorry - we've already got the answer to that one).

There's no doubt plenty more that I'm not aware of!

From a layman's perspective franchising can look appealing (grass is greener and all that) but the reality is it throws up just as many questions as answers, and only hindsight will tell us if the model has been successful.

No doubt to be continued...