Bus Services

Transport written question – answered on 30th April 2008.

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Photo of Gordon Prentice Gordon Prentice Labour, Pendle

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which local authorities in England have withdrawn concessionary fare schemes offering reduced fares for people with disabilities travelling before 9.30 am in the last 12 months.

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Minister of State (Regional Affairs) (Yorkshire and the Humber), Minister of State (Department for Transport)

The Government are responsible for the statutory minimum concession that all travel concession authorities (TCAs) are required to provide. From 1 April this year, the statutory entitlement to concessionary travel is improved to give residents of England aged 60 or over and eligible disabled people free off-peak bus travel in any part of England. Off-peak is defined in legislation as 9.30 am to 11 pm Monday to Friday and at all times at weekends and bank holidays. TCAs have discretion to enhance its statutory minimum at their own expense. They can give residents concessionary travel beyond the statutory times or extend eligibility to other groups of people. Any decision to change these discretionary elements is a matter for individual TCAs and, as such, no record is kept centrally of such changes.

As part of our monitoring of concessionary travel, the Department intends to carry out a survey of TCAs during summer 2008 to establish the range of local enhancements available at end of December 2007 and at end of June 2008. This will report in the autumn and provide an indication of the discretionary concessions that were withdrawn between these two dates and since the previous survey carried out in the summer of 2006.

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Alastair Carnegie
Posted on 3 May 2008 3:25 pm (Report this annotation)

We read from the Kent Consessionary Scheme report:-

"Since the introduction of free off-peak bus travel in April 2006, there have been a number of appeals by bus operators against concessionary travel schemes across the country due to concerns about the adequacy of reimbursement. There were two appeals against the Kent scheme which were withdrawn. However, MCL has provided details of the outcome of the first batch of appeal determinations which indicate that travel concession authorities must pay the out-turn cost of concessionary travel and make budgetary provision accordingly, and cannot resort to any method of estimation that results in a fixed amount of payment to operators. A modification has therefore been suggested to the Arrangements for Reimbursement document, basically removing reference to any limitation or cap imposed by the funds available in the reimbursement pool and making the arrangements subject to further guidance issued by the Department for Transport or any ruling by the Secretary of State regarding appeals lodged in 2006/07."

So it seems budget 'caps' leading to inadequate reimbursement by fixed payments, are the bone of contention.