Under plans announced by transport secretary Douglas Alexander, councils will be able to dictate bus frequency, timetables and fares to operators. But they will also be held to account over the performance of local bus services.
Local Government Association transport and regeneration board deputy chair Professor John Whitelegg said the measures would help deliver the government's target of increasing passenger numbers.
'English councils outside London spend more money to enable fewer passengers to travel at fares that are significantly higher on fewer services,' he said. 'They have been hamstrung by a system that has not allowed them to respond to local need.'
They will now be able to use a 'public interest test' to prove schemes meet local needs.