Transport Focus’s heritage goes back to the 1947 Transport Act which set up the Central Transport Consultative Committee (CTCC) and a network of regional Transport Users’ Consultative Committees as passenger representative bodies. The original CTCC and the TUCCs were abolished by the Transport Act 1962 and replaced with new bodies of the same name, although with extended powers. Those powers were extended again in 1968.
The Railways Act 1993 abolished the 1962 structure and replaced it with the Rail Users’ Consultative Committee (RUCC) network comprising the Central Rail Users’ Consultative Committee (CRUCC), as the national coordinating body, and eight regional committees. The new bodies were sponsored by the Office of the Rail Regulator, since renamed the Office of Rail and Road, and spoke up for passengers in the new era of privatised train companies. The CRUCC and RUCCs were renamed the Rail Passengers’ Council and Rail Passengers’ Committees by the Transport Act 2000, with sponsorship transferring to the newly-created Strategic Rail Authority (SRA). The new Rail Passengers Council and Committees (RPC) network was launched at the Rail Summit in May 2000.
In January 2004 the Secretary of State for Transport announced a review of the rail industry which led to a White Paper entitled ‘The Future of Rail’. Amongst other things, the White Paper called for a more independent and focused rail passenger organisation that offered better value for money and achieved higher levels of passenger awareness. The resulting Railways Act 2005 abolished the Rail Passengers’ Council and regional Rail Passengers’ Committees, replacing them with a new Rail Passengers’ Council as a single Great Britain-wide organisation. In 2006 Passenger Focus became the operating name of that organisation.
In April 2008 the Secretary of State for Transport announced that he planned to widen Passenger Focus’s role to include bus passenger representation in England, outside London. The Local Transport Act 2008 amended the Transport Act 2005 to allow our remit to be extended through secondary legislation. This received Parliamentary approval as The Passengers’ Council (Non-Railway Functions) Order 2010.
Passenger Focus, officially renamed the Passengers’ Council, now represented rail passengers in England, Scotland and Wales, bus and tram passengers in England (outside London) and passengers on scheduled domestic coach services in England.
In 2014 the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that Passenger Focus would widen its role, from representing passengers to representing all those who use the motorways and certain A roads in England (the Strategic Road Network). This would include motorists, freight and business users, as well as those who walk or cycle on the network.
In order to reflect the added responsibility, Passenger Focus changed its name to Transport Focus.
The Infrastructure Act gained Royal Assent in February 2015 and the change took place on 30 March 2015. The Highways Agency became a Government-owned company called Highways England. It is monitored by a unit that sits within the existing Office of Rail and Road. This monitoring is distinct from Transport Focus’s role as the road user watchdog.