Category Archives: bus operators


Big Red Bus Pass WARNING

Big Red Bus Pass WARNING

If you are thinking of visiting London and using your Bus Pass then please be aware that some drivers are refusing to recognise the pass and will not let you travel. Following on from the introduction of the Oyster card buses no longer accept cash and this has caused some difficulties for Bus Pass holders who live outside London. The Pensioners Free Bus Pass is a national system and pensioners should not be penalised because of the failure of Transport for London. In this respect we have reported the this issue but so far no department seems willing to accept responsibility for resolving the issue.

Any bus pass issued in England is valid on buses anywhere in England, and that includes London – they are easy to recognise as they carry the red rose symbol: –
ENglish National Bus Pass Symbol

We have written to the Freedom Pass Office who passed us on to the John O’Donovan, Customer Service Representative, Transport for London, who passed us on to whose reply is awaited. (this does not relate to tube travel, but that’s who we were referred on to.

Failing this our next step will be to take this up with Boris 

Contents of our email are:

“We’ve received a sudden spate of comments about bus drivers in London not accepting valid bus passes issued outside London. e.g.

Submitted on 2016/03/30 at 1:24 am

“I have had this problem in London on route 142 coming back to Watford from Burnt Oak.I have the yellow band disabled pass.One driver said he hadn’t seen one before one nearly threw me off the bus,in london some drivers do not want to except this pass.Mine is issued in Buckinghamshire and told the driver this.

TFL need to enable these ITSO passes on their oyster readers but do not look to be in any hurry,the driver normally pushes a button or similar on the machine.As route 142 operates outside grater London into Hertfordshire they should be aware of these passes but are reluctant,I have never had a problem between Watford and Burnt Oak however on the return journey there can be problems.”

Submitted on 2016/03/23 at 10:54 am:

“Some bus drivers are turning into despicable creatures.

I was in Oxford Street, when the driver was collecting the money, and telling passengers that he will issue the tickets in “a minute”. He never did, and obviously pocketed the money. Driver was Eastern European.

Two weeks ago, I was travelling from Esher, in Surrey on the 458 bus, to Kingston upon Thames.
The driver charged a disabled 82 year old pensioner, giving a flimsy excuse. I suggested to the old Lady to report him, as she was rather shocked.”

“Submitted on 2016/03/19 at 4:13 pm

I have just shown my bus pass issued in Cheshire on a london bus it was refused. Why was this”

Have you had an experience like this – if so please let us know. We understand that bus drivers have a difficult job – it is down to TFL managment to ensure that bus drivers are properly instructed.

Bus company in Scotland: to carry more people on concession but receive less is unsustainable

Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths described the Scottish transport market as challenging but said the transport group remained committed to investing in its home market.

The firm is locked in negotiations over the future of its Cowdenbeath depot in Fife.

Mr Griffiths said talks were ongoing with the unions about “realigning some of the business” in Fife and said the wider Scottish market was difficult as authorities kept an eye on budgets.

“Scotland is quite difficult at the moment – our economy is still challenged,” Mr Griffiths said.

He said tendered services were being squeezed and there was an issue with returns for concessionary travel, such as that offered through the free bus pass scheme for pensioners and disabled people.

“The Scottish Government has been reducing concessionary reimbursements,” he continued.

“To carry more people on concession but for the company to have less is not a sustainable business model. Long-term, what we do with the concessionary scheme will need to be debated.”

The issue was also tackled in the firm’s preliminary results statement.

Read more

Revolutionary proposals for public transport in N East England

The North East Combined Authority has voted for a plan which could give councils power over when and how often bus services run in Tyne and Wear.

Quality Contract Scheme: What will changes to the bus system in Tyne and Wear mean for you?

The North East Combined Authority has voted for a plan which could give councils power over when and how often bus services run in Tyne and Wear

What is a QCS?

A Quality Contract Scheme is a legal power over bus services by a council. In this case, the North East Combined Authority will set ticket prices, routes and timetables across Tyne and Wear and on some routes in and out of County Durham and Northumberland. NECA will also decide what types of buses are used. Nexus, the public body which devised this scheme and currently manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, will collect fares and pay bus companies to provide bus services through contracts. This is a big change to the present market, where buses companies decide on prices and routes.
What is wrong with the current system?

NECA believes a QCS will be better than leaving things as they are. It argues people are put off using buses because fares have gone up on average 3% more than inflation for a decade. Today, councils pay bus operators to provide less-used bus services, and subsidise some fares – as well as funding the free bus pass for older and disabled people. This adds up to £56m-a-year in Tyne and Wear, money is running short and the cost of the free bus pass – which councils must pay by law – is growing, meaning that the other bus services councils pay for will have to be withdrawn.
So, everyone agrees it is great?

Not exactly. The bus companies – mostly Stagecoach, Arriva and Go-Ahead – strongly disagree with the move and recommended a voluntary system that gives them more freedom. They say a QCS a “huge gamble” that could lead to higher fares, worse services and higher tax bills in the long run.

Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham, also has “serious concerns”. He said profitable services in urban Tyne and Wear subsidise the rural bus network in Northumberland and County Durham. He is worried that subsidy would dry up under the new QCS.

Read more

Our comment: Not difficult to see why the bus companies don’t like the idea ! Residents who live outside Tyne & Wear may stand to get a better deal on access to the Metro system ?

Valid Bus Passes being refused in London & elsewhere.

Imagine the scene – a couple leaving the Hampton Court Flower Show attempt to board a London bus. They tender their bus passes issued in Gloucestershire but the bus driver refuses it as being invalid on London buses. Feeling very unhappy about this the elderly couple, anxious to get back to the place they are staying, offer to pay the fare but that too is refused, as no cash is now taken on London buses. Obviously bus pass holders visiting London will not have bought an Oyster Card if they intend to just use bus services for transport.
We are sorry to report that get messages at regular intervals from people with an ENCTS scheme bus pass issued in England but outside London where the bus driver has erroneously refused to accept the bus pass. This places the bus pass holder in an impossible position, since the London buses no longer accept cash.
Sadly these are not the only cases where bus drivers don’t seem to understand the rules – a resident in Somerset recently reported to us that on a trip to Devon using a Somerset Bus Pass they were made to pay the bus fare to the Somerset border. This is clearly not how the ENCTS scheme is intended to work.
May we say we don’t wish to vilify bus drivers who generally do a first class job cheerfully. We do feel very strongly though that those responsible for the provision of local bus services have a responsibility to ensure that their drivers are given clear information on the acceptance of bus passes. The position is more acute in London, since the refusal to accept a valid bus pass puts older people in a very bad situation.

If you encounter any difficulty getting your bus pass accepted we would like to hear about it – please use the ‘reply’ box below.

Comment received from Devon Bus Pass office:

You may not be aware that Devon County Council has excluded service 300 from the concessionary travel scheme as of 1st April 2014 as the service is used primarily for tourism.

This means that anyone boarding in Devon will have to pay a fare to the county border regardless of where the pass was issued.

Attached is a link to our scheme document for 2014.

Stagecoach threaten legal challenge to Welsh Government on concessionary fare funding

STAGECOACH Group has threatened a legal challenge over plans by the Welsh Government to reduce the budget of its concessionary travel scheme.

The transport operator said it intends to bring a judicial review, which is a court proceeding where a judge looks at the lawfulness of a decision or action by a public body, unless the Welsh assembly’s plan is reconsidered before April 1.

The potential action comes after the Welsh Government recently agreed a funding package of £189 million for free bus travel in Wales for the next three years.

That is a reduction of more than 11% on the £213.3m that has been allocated during the past three years.

Around 720,000 people in Wales, including serving members and veterans from the armed forces, are eligible to use the scheme.

Stagecoach said its legal advisors suggest the Welsh Government has made an error by capping the scheme to fit within a budget as opposed to following a statutory principle that transport operators should be no better and no worse off as a result of a concessionary scheme.

That principle makes allowances so operators should not miss out on the fares they would have collected while also taking into account the likelihood that more people are likely to travel as a result of a concessionary scheme.

Perth based Stagecoach is the largest bus operator in Wales with seven depots, almost 400 vehicles and around 900 staff.
Read more

Bus fares increase in Huddersfield

Bus fares are going up in Huddersfield with the cheapest single fare rising from 80p to £1.

The prices are to rise on most single journey and return fares at the end of the month.

But bus operator First has maintained a price freeze on all day, week, month and annual prices for both local travel and West Yorkshire wide travel.

They will stay the same as current levels as part of a fare review to come into effect from Sunday. March 30.

As part of the current review, some single and return fares will increase to meet rising costs. First says it has worked hard to keep these to a minimum and the increase is less than 1.5% overall, well below the rate of inflation (CPI 1.9%, RPI 2.8%).

In the summer of 2013, First introduced a new £12 weekly ticket which allowed unlimited travel for seven days.and bus chiefs claim that this, along with better service delivery, has helped lead to a five percent increase in passenger numbers across West Yorkshire.

Read more

Government urged to rethink law banning pensioners from contributing towards bus services

AN MP is pressing for a change in the law which bans pensioners from contributing towards bus services.

Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh has applied for a House of Commons debate as campaigners dubbed the Concessionary Bus Travel Act “bizarre” as elderly passengers on trains have to pay £30 to receive a concessionary rail card.

North Yorkshire County Council leader Councillor John Weighell estimated tens of thousands of pensioners in the county want to contribute towards fares to make 150 threatened services financially viable for bus operators.

The authority, which is mid-way through cutting its budget by £168m, decided to cut its bus subsidies by £2m earlier this week, despite warnings over the loss of services to sheltered housing estates and doctors’ surgeries.

The council spends £8m a year subsidising pensioners’ bus travel in the county, which has a high proportion of elderly residents, who represent 70 per cent of the bus services’ users.

Coun Weighell said he would write to the Transport Secretary to highlight pensioners’ frustration over the law.

Read more

Free bus travel scheme in turmoil amid major funding cuts

Service cuts and job losses will be inevitable if the Welsh Government cuts payments for free bus travel by more than 37% next year, bus professionals have warned.

When pensioners and disabled people across Wales were given unlimited free bus travel in 2002, all bus operators were compelled by law to carry pass holders without charging a fare.

The law also committed the Welsh Government to paying for each passenger at a rate which leaves the bus operator no better or worse off than if the free travel were unavailable.

Since 2002 the operators have been reimbursed 73.59% of their average single fare. This was reviewed and confirmed as the appropriate figure four years ago.

But the Welsh Government recently told the bus industry it intends to pay just 46% of the average fare from April 1. Managers say that would have a dramatic impact on their revenue, forcing them to withdraw services and reduce their fleets and staffing.
Read more

Cornwall’s free bus pass holders could be asked to pay

Free bus pass holders could be asked to voluntarily pay for tickets in a bid to cut costs and protect rural routes in Cornwall.

Legally, Cornwall Council cannot force concessionary passengers to pay.

However the authority, which needs to save £24m next year, has proposed a voluntary scheme urging passengers to “keep their pass in their pocket”.

Campaign group Bus Users UK, said the proposal was not the solution.

Derek Potts, who represents Bus Users UK in Cornwall, said: “I am extremely concerned about any public transport cuts in this county.

“The proposal really isn’t dealing with the problem, which is that there isn’t adequate money for the operators to continue to accept these passes.”

In a statement, the First Bus company said: “The concessionary fare scheme is set out in legislation and operators are not permitted to make any charge to such passengers.”
Read more

Three bus drivers used lost OAP passes to scam £14,000 in ‘fake’ trips

Three bus drivers have each been jailed for six months after being convicted of a bogus travel pass fraud that netted more than £14,000.

Peter Fitzpatrick, 46, James McFeeley, 36, of Greenock, and Mark Phillips, 41, of Gourock, used lost or stolen cards issued to elderly and disabled people under the National Bus Travel Concession Scheme.

They were caught after Transport Scotland officials boarded the buses they were driving in Largs and checked the trips swiped on their ticket machines.

Non-existent journeys had been recorded on behalf of their employer, Harte Buses of Greenock, which then claimed the cash in refunds from Transport Scotland.

Under questioning, McFeeley insisted he was not asked to commit the fraud and had nothing to gain except “keeping the numbers up to keep myself in a job”.

Fitzpatrick, of Staffa Street, McFeeley, of Drumillan Hill, both Greenock, and Phillips, of Mathie Crescent, Gourock; had denied fraud on buses in Largs between February and November 2010.

Jailing the three, Sheriff Brian Murphy said they had shown no remorse for their “persistent” fraud, sometimes using the same bus pass “daily over and over again”.

He added: “What you did was a concerted and repeated fraud involving taxpayers’ money, and is not to be treated lightly.

“It is clear this was organised and a practice carried out by all three of you over many months, with a view to unlawfully maximising the financial returns your employer received from Transport Scotland.
Read more

Bus company dives in with bus pass to help 20 year old champion

A DIVING champion and Olympic contender has received a boost from his local bus company.
British Men’s 1m Springboard Champion, Oliver Dingley, from Canvey Island, has been awarded an annual travel pass from First Essex to give him unlimited free bus travel around the county.
Oliver, who narrowly missed out on selection for the London 2012 Olympics due to injury, travels regularly across Essex for training, coaching, competing and visiting schools and diving centres.
The 20-year-old said: “I am very grateful for the support from First Essex. The travel pass will not only help me get around, but will also help save money that will go towards developing my future in diving. I hope to help promote the positive community activities that First Essex are involved in.”
Nigel Barrett from First Essex said; “We are always supportive of local talents such as Oliver. He is an extremely bright prospect, not just for Essex, but for the whole country. We’re extremely excited to be given the opportunity to support Oliver in his training for competing on the world stage.”
Read more

Yorkshire Coastliner to debar free concessionary travel

NORTON councillors have expressed concerns over proposed changes to a local bus service.

The town council was told that from May 25, the local bus service, operated by Yorkshire Coastliner, will terminate at Rillington, with the bus continuing to Scarborough as an express service which will not stop at any intermediate points – even if someone is stood at the bus stop.

Councillors were told this meant that the communities between Rillington and Scarborough would have a service at 8.47am, with the next journey not until 2.15pm.
Click here to find out more!

Concessionary passengers who board the vehicle prior to Rillington could travel to Scarborough, but would have to pay a fare, possibly £3.

On journeys to Whitby, the local bus service will terminate at Thornton-le-Dale, which means no service for the communities of Lockton Lane End, Saltersgate Inn and Goathland until 2.05pm.

Coun Kevin Anderson said this would be a big blow to local people.

“What happens if you have a hospital appointment at Scarborough – you will have no chance of getting there,” he said.

Coun David Lloyd-Williams said every parish affected along the route needed to be made aware of the changes.

He said: “We need to get someone from Yorkshire Coastliner to the next parish liaison meeting to explain why they are taking these steps.
Read more