In a report published last week, the Centre for Cities argues that existing passenger transport authorities (PTAs) are not strong enough to deliver integrated transport in metropolitan areas.
The government must use powers in the Local Transport Bill to make cities adopt the stronger ITA model, placing decisions in the hands of council leaders, it adds. The bill is expected to receive Royal Assent shortly.
The ITAs would take on broader functions and adopt boundaries that better reflect the scale of city-regional job markets, the report says. They should cover the Bristol and Tees Valley conurbations as well as areas covered by the former metropolitan county PTAs, it argues.
"Except in London, transport in most UK cities is fragmented and unco-ordinated. This is a big problem because public transport is a lifeline to work and services," said Centre for Cities policy head Adam Marshall.
While bus use in London has increased by 51 per cent over the past decade, it has fallen in other large urban areas - by a quarter in Tyne and Wear and a fifth in Merseyside and South Yorkshire. The think-tank called for a greater DfT focus on improving city-regions' services.
On the Move - Delivering Integrated Transport in Britain's Cities is available at PlanningResource.co.uk/doc.