Scottish Labour is to launch a new campaign to re-regulate the bus industry and improve “declining” services over the next parliament. The party accused the SNP of neglecting public transport and putting “profits before passengers” during nearly a decade in government.
Labour highlighted Transport Scotland statistics showing the number of bus journeys in Scotland fell 15% between 2007/08 and 2014/15, from 488 million to 414 million.
The same statistics show vehicle kilometres covered by Scotland’s local commercial and subsidised bus services fell by 66 million over the same period, from 397 million to 331 million. The Bus Service Operators Grant has been cut by £13 million, or 20%, over the past five years while bus fares have climbed by 18% at current prices. Labour said the SNP had supported regulating the bus industry before entering government in 2007 but had since taken no action.
Jersey Bus Services
DISABLED Islanders who cannot drive are to be offered a concessionary bus pass under a pilot scheme that is due to be launched early next year.
After the States voted unanimously in February to provide the passes to people with long-term disabilities, Infrastructure Minister Eddie Noel yesterday announced his department was due to test the scheme.
Funding of £600,000 for the initiative is due to come from the Car Park Trading Fund, subject to approval of the Medium Term Financial Plan 2 – the next phase of the States’ spending strategy.
The pilot scheme is due to run from early next year until the end of 2019, with further details due to be released once funding has been finalised later this year and under the initiative Islanders will pay £15 for the card, which will entitle them to free bus travel.
Read more at http://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2016/08/17/cheap-bus-pass-scheme-for-disabled/#4z4xKqWSeTA56V2C.99
Comment just received (August 2016) from a bus pass holder:
“Between 31/6/16 and 2/8/16. Myself and five of my friends went to London, as we have done for the last three years. The problem this year we were unable to use our “oap” free bus passes issued by West Midlands Authority, which we used without problems in the past. We were told we must buy an oyster card.
The same issue is reported to us repeatedly:
LONDON BUS DRIVERS REFUSING VALID BUS PASSES
Valid Bus Passes being refused in London & elsewhere.>
We have raised this with Transport for London several times, and nothing improves. It is very embarrasing for people to be refused what they are entitled to. Our recommendation is to stand your ground and make the bus driver sweat. There is life outside London ! Perhaps we should arrange a march on GLC HQ?
STAFFORD’S bus depot is set to shut next month, with the loss of jobs and a number of town centre bus routes.
From September 3 Arriva’s services to Wildwood are set to be withdrawn, although a service along Cannock Road will be maintained, and services to Baswich will be reduced and amended. A section of the route between County Hospital and Staffordshire Technology Park is also being axed.
Route 76, between Stafford and Wolverhampton, will cease its standard service, Arriva has said, and the firm will no longer run the corridor between Wolverhampton and Penkridge outside of the Sunday service. Penkridge to Stafford will still be served by route 75
Rob Cheveaux, Area Managing Director for Arriva Midlands (West), said: “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, low passenger numbers on some of our routes have meant that it is no longer commercially viable for us to continue operating them as they currently are. Although we are regretful for any potential inconvenience this will cause people living along these routes, we have, where possible, worked to find alternative solutions which will be sustainable in the long-term and will enable those customers affected to still be served by a simpler, stronger bus service.
THE revelations that nearly a third of all bus journeys taken in Yorkshire are free concessions and cost the taxpayer £100m, will no doubt raise a few eyebrows. In North Yorkshire the figure is even higher with these concessionary fares for the elderly and disabled accounting for nearly half of all journeys. On the face of it this sounds like an awful lot of money to be spending on subsidised bus fares with critics arguing the numbers simply don’t stack up at a time of major spending cuts. However, the biggest concern is that the elderly and vulnerable will be left in a situation where they have a free bus pass – but no bus to travel on. As wise owl Coun John Blackie, North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) member for Hawes, points out, this undermines the whole point of having such a scheme. But something has to be done. Local bus services are an essential lifeline for many elderly, vulnerable and disabled people – particularly those living in more rural areas – giving them a degree of independence without which they would be at risk of becoming more socially isolated which can, in turn, lead to other health problems.
Read more at:
Our comment: Our editor, having lived in Cllr Blackie’s neck of the woods, confirms that the value of a bus pass in places like rural Wensleyale is negligible compared to urban areas due to the paucity of bus services. And we shouldn’t overlook either the fact that older people are using their bus passes to go out and spend money which the rural economy needs.
The triple-lock protection for state pensions should be dropped to save billions of pounds for better causes, according to the outgoing pensions minister. The Department for Work and Pensions declined to rule out a review of the “totemic” policy in the coming months.
Under the triple-lock guarantee, pensions have risen every year since 2010 by whichever is the higher figure – the rate of inflation, average earnings or a minimum of 2.5%. This has lifted many pensioners out of poverty, but Baroness Altmann, who left her post as pensions minister this month, said the cost beyond 2020 would be “enormous”.
In an interview with the Observer, she said the billions of pounds of spending it entailed could be better used, following a period in which pensioners have enjoyed swiftly rising living standards relative to the rest of society.
Altmann also revealed that she had privately lobbied David Cameron a year ago to drop the commitment of hiking pensions year-on-year by 2.5% when earnings and price inflation are low, but that the then prime minister had blocked the change on political grounds.
Britain’s households suffered a squeeze on wages in the past eight years only matched in the advanced world by Greece, according to a TUC analysis.
Between 2007 and 2015 wages fell by 10.4 per cent after adjusting for inflation. It was the sharpest decline of all 35 members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development with the exception of Greece. Across the OECD, real wages increased by 6.7 per cent on average.
British households endured the most severe decline in livings standards in more than a century after the financial crisis and many economists believe they are on the verge of another squeeze following the vote to leave the EU.
“Wages fell off the cliff after the financial crisis, and have barely begun to recover,” Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary, said. “People cannot afford another hit to their pay packets. Working people must not foot the bill for a Brexit downturn in the way they did for the bankers’ crash.”
In Germany real wages grew by 13.9 per cent and in France by 10.5 per cent. Portugal was the only other OECD member apart from Greece and the UK to suffer a fall over the period.