Rising car use and cuts to public funding are being blamed for a loss of 134 million miles of coverage over the past decade alone.
Some cut-off communities have taken to starting their own services, with Wales and north-west England hardest hit.
The government has encouraged councils and bus companies to work together to halt the decline.
One lobbying group fears the scale of the miles lost are a sign buses are on course to be cut to the same extent railways were in the 1960s.
During that decade thousands of miles of track were scrapped and hundreds of stations closed following a report by British Railways Board chairman Dr Richard Beeching.
Chris Todd, of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “We are not talking a loss of that level, but we are heading that way.
“We live in a society that is quite prepared to completely abandon certain groups of people and leave them with no options of getting around.”
Communities around the UK say the shrinking bus network is leaving people unable to reach basic services such as shops and GP surgeries.
Our comment: How much bigger might the decline in services be without the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme which was introduced nationally in 1908 ? Crises of viability of local bus services throughout England are likely to have arisen from one end of the country to the other.
read more on detailed BBC report
In Scotland people aged 60 or over are holding their breaths whilst the outcome of The Scottish Government’s consultation on the future of bus pass entitlement in Scotland is awaited. The closing date for responses was November 17th 2017. In brief the 3 options consulted on are:
- make no change to the scheme, leaving the eligibility rules as they are (i.e. age 60); or
- raise the age of eligibility for both men and women in one step from 60 to the (female) State Pension age (which will be 65 in November 2018 and will increase to 68 over a number of years )
- raise the age of eligibility for men and women progressively towards the State Pension age (see 2 above) by annual increases of one year or half a year to the age of eligibility.
Council chiefs are set to reject proposals to raise the age limit on free bus travel — as they call on ministers to protect local services.
The Scottish Government is currently consulting on a proposal to raise the age at which free bus travel can be claimed from 60 to 65.
The proposed change could take effect next year, when the women’s state pension age is equalised with that of men at 65.
However, Dundee City Council council bosses are officially opposed to the move and next week members look set to ratify a statement that will be sent to ministers — saying occasional bus users are being hit by higher prices needed to fund the scheme.
The council said in its statement: “The bus is primarily used by people travelling around their local communities — again people mainly from low-income households, elderly and disabled, women and younger people. The Government should be safeguarding expenditure for those modes of transport that support those with most need in society.
“If Government is to push ahead with this change, a significant proportion of the savings should be ring-fenced for supporting the local bus network.”
A report to be considered at the city development committee on Monday states that the current reimbursement system has driven up the costs of adult single tickets — making bus travel for occasional users seem expensive.
It is a maligned mode of transport, but the bus is helping to drive Scotland’s economy, says Martyn McLaughlin. With an unrivalled location on the Black Isle’s north-west coast and panoramic views of the Cromarty Firth, it should come as no surprise that the village of Culbokie is increasingly favoured by those who work in Inverness. On a good day, it takes a little over 20 minutes to skirt across the Kessock bridge, a commute well worth it for the chance to reside in one of Scotland’s most picturesque spots.
The only caveat, however, is that you need a car. In April, Stagecoach withdrew its service after losing out in a Highland Council re-tendering exercise. Now, residents in the rural nook who wish to travel to Inverness by public transport are forced to traipse nearly two miles to flag down a passing service, and even then, their window of opportunity is limited. According to Norlil Charlton, a member of a local action group battling to get a direct service reinstated, it is impossible to get to Inverness before 10am, or return to Culbokie after 2:30pm. The only alternative is to hitch a lift, or pay around £50 for a round trip in a taxi. At least one family has moved to Cromarty as a result.
Read more at: http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/martyn-mclaughlin-public-buses-are-lifeline-and-vital-to-scots-economy-1-4589528
The age limit for free bus passes could be raised as a consultation on the benefit gets under way.
Transport minister Humza Yousaf has issued a call for views on proposals aimed at making the concessionary travel scheme affordable in future.
More than 1.3 million over-60s and disabled people benefit from the free bus pass, accounting for about 145 million journeys each year or a third of all those made in Scotland.
The scheme is facing a £9.5m cut in the 2017-18 draft budget despite rising numbers of older people.
Yousaf insisted passes would not be taken away from those who already benefit or are due to obtain one before the changes come in.
Labour said the SNP has “no mandate” to make cuts to the bus pass budget as no such policy was in their manifesto for the 2016 Holyrood election.
The new consultation looks at whether the age of eligibility should be raised in one go or gradually to bring it into line with the state pension age, which will be equalised for men and women in 2018.
This topic has been raised many times, the most recent in January 2017
A pensioner is calling for a change in the rules after a friend, who suffers from dementia, was refused a bus ride for losing her pass.
David Hall and pal Margaret were hoping to catch the Fastrack B bus to Dartford town centre on August 4, when they were told the 80-year-old was not allowed on.
The grandmother-of-six had lost her bus pass, which entitles her to free travel, earlier in the week and had visited Dartford Library to buy a new one
She was told the new pass would not arrive for two to three weeks so kept hold of her receipt and had been using it as proof of payment to travel on other buses.
Mr Hall, 75, said: “The bus driver said she wasn’t insured to be on the bus.
Lanacshire Village celebrates
A £1MILLION boost to the bus network in Lancashire has been hailed as ‘fabulous news’ in a village that lost its service.
The new administration at Lancashire County Council has committed to increase the budget to support bus services from £2m to £3m.
A key priority is to restore lost links between communities, particularly in rural areas.
That was the case for about eight months in Sabden, where villagers without access to a car were effectively ‘stranded’’ in 2016.
Other plans include increasing the frequency of services on routes where there is more demand and stabilising the network to support routes that might otherwise disappear.
A GROUP of elderly people feel ‘victimised’ and ‘trapped’ after being forced to pay £1 a day for a formerly free bus.
Pensioners who rely on the number 22 Grant Palmer shopping service bus from into Bedford town are now forced to pay £1 each weekday morning, despite being able to use it for free just a week and a half ago.
This is because Bedford Borough Council is now charging the elderly and disabled with concessionary passes who use the bus before 9.30am , which came into force on February 1.
The scheme was introduced to save the council £100,000 a year in light of what portfolio holder for finance, Michael Headley described as ‘punishing government cuts’.
The council previously claimed single service buses would not be affected by the charges.
Read more at http://www.bedfordshire-news.co.uk/pensioners-feel-victimised-by-1-charge-for-their-only-bus-to-town/story-30127613-detail/story.html#5myR6bIrWiWRyzHY.99
The age at which Scots qualify for a free bus pass could be set to rise.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said the Scottish government would hold a consultation on changes to the national concession travel scheme.
He wants to extend it to Modern Apprentices and those on Job Grants and said people who already had passes would retain them.
But he said ministers had to look at the “long-term sustainability” of offering all those over 60 free travel.
The Scotland-wide free bus pass entitlement scheme was introduced in 2006.
The card allows passengers, aged over 60 or disabled, to travel free on local, registered or scheduled long-distance services.
The transport minister has said a public consultation on changes to the current system will be held.
However, he insisted that current holders of the passes would be unaffected.
Mr Yousaf told BBC Scotland: “If you’ve got a free bus pass you will continue to have that free bus pass and continue to be able to use that pass in the way that you currently are.
“What we have said is that we want to extend the national travel scheme to Modern Apprentices, to those on a Job Grant, so that some young people, that are in the most need, can also benefit.
“But clearly people are living longer, they are staying in work longer – which are all good things – but it does add a pressure.
CHANGES to discount travel passes in Bedford borough are set to come into force next month.
The English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) allows disabled and pensioner pass holders to travel free of charge on bus journeys where the journeyis made between 9.30am and 11.00pm Monday to Friday or anytime on weekends or bank holidays.
This part of the scheme is not changing.
But Bedford Borough Council had previously subsidised pass holders’ travel in addition to the national scheme to allow them to use buses for free at any time on journeys within the borough. This initiative is being altered.
READ MORE:£2.7m budget cuts as Bedford council tax rises
ENCTS pass holders travelling before 9.30am on weekdays will now pay a contribution of £1 per journey toward the cost of their journey as of February 1, 2017.
What a shame they can’t get their act together!
Message from bus pass user today: “I have just been on the H37 bus from Blenheim centre towards Richmond and the driver told me my national bus pass was not valid, even when I showed him it was valid anywhere in England. It made me feel uncomfortable and embarrased. It is about time tFL instructed all their drivers of the situation.”
This is appalling – so many people have been embrarrassed in this way.
Isn’t it strange, we have never had a complaint from a Londoner having a problem using their pass outside London.
You can read other bus pass users complaints on
Do print off a copy of the attached and have it with you on your next journey. London Bus Driver’s Guide Book Page
Labour have claimed older people are getting a “raw deal” from the Scottish Government’s draft budget as concessionary travel is in line for cuts of almost £10m.
The party’s transport spokesman Neil Bibby raised fears that fares for paying customers will rise and lifeline bus routes will be cut as the funds for subsidised and free travel for disabled and older people is reduced by £9.5m next year.
The Scottish Government’s budget document plans to cut concessionary travel cash from £207.8m in 2016/17 to £198.3m in 2017/18, but a Transport Scotland spokeswoman said the free bus pass scheme would continue “exactly as it does at present”.
The document states the government will “constrain payments under the concessionary travel scheme for older and disabled people as a result of a negotiated settlement with the bus sector and develop options in consultation with stakeholders to safeguard the scheme’s longer-term sustainability”.