The Scottish Government’s proposal to raise the eligibility age for concessionary travel could have a damaging effect on bus services in South-West Scotland, SWestrans, the area’s regional transport partnership, has warned.
Responding to Transport Scotland’s concessionary fares consultation (LTT 15 Sep), SWestrans says that any raising of the age eligibility criteria could see the number of bus journeys fall.
Sad to hear, but
Councillors in the Borders have backed increasing the age at which people are eligible for a free bus pass to the state pension age.
The Scottish government is consulting on changing the qualification criteria.
It could mean people aged 60 and over would not automatically be entitled to free bus travel in Scotland.
Scottish Borders Council backed increasing the age but also wanted to ensure people with disabilities kept getting the pass regardless of age.
However, in neighbouring Dumfries and Galloway the region’s transport partnership – Swestrans – has urged no changes to the scheme.
It has said any move to raise the age level could threaten local services.
The consultation on any changes was announced earlier this year.
It could see the scheme – introduced in 2006 – extended to Modern Apprentices and those on Job Grants but it is looking at the “long-term sustainability” of offering all those over 60 free travel.
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
A GLASGOW MSP is asking constituents to help him with a dilemma of ageing.
John Mason wants to find out if people think he should apply for a free bus pass as he has just turned 60.
Mr Mason, while agreeing with the concessionary travel scheme, said he is in a well-paid job and can easily afford the bus fare.
He is grappling with the decision of using what he is entitled to or accepting something for free at a cost to the public purse, which on a MSP salary of almost £62,000 he can afford to pay for.
Councils are spending £200m a year subsidising the concessionary bus fares scheme, new analysis has revealed.
The Local Government Association (LGA) warned the scheme has been underfunded for years by central government, and is being financially topped up by councils at the expense of other discretionary services.
In a new report – due to be published later this week – the LGA is calling on the Government to fully fund the concessionary fares scheme and give councils control over the Bus Service Operators’ Grant.
Cllr Martin Tett, LGA transport spokesman, said: ‘Faced with significant funding pressures, many across the country are being forced into taking difficult decisions to scale back services and review subsidised routes.
‘The way the concessionary travel scheme is funded by Whitehall has not kept up with growing demand and cost. By giving councils control over the Bus Service Operators’ Grant, and properly funding the free bus pass schemes the government could help us support and maintain our essential bus services, reduce congestion and protect vital routes.’
Thousands of over-60s normally eligible for free bus travel could now have to pay to ride due to a massive backlog in renewing permits.
People are facing delays of up to 28 days as Lincolnshire County Council deals with 6,000 applications a month rather than the usual 1,200 to 1,500.
This is because 67,000 passes are due to expire this year and demand is high despite the council advising people as early as last autumn to apply six months before expiry dates. It normally takes up to 10 days to issue a renewed pass.
Read more at http://www.lincolnshirelive.co.uk/thousands-of-over-60s-face-waiting-up-to-28-days-for-free-bus-pass-renewal-in-lincolnshire/story-30285097-detail/story.html#hMQ2ggA5ytRMqJUD.99
Earlier this year The Sunday Post revealed how the Scottish Government is planning to increase the eligibility age for the popular concessionary travel scheme.
It is expected this will see the minimum age rise from 60 to 65 with current pass-holders unaffected.
Figures released under freedom of information laws show that last year £45m of the £187.7m spent on the free bus pass scheme was accounted for by users in the 60 to 64 age bracket.
Around one in five holders of the free bus pass are between the ages of 60 and 64, with many of them working commuters.
Meanwhile, a new poll has revealed the majority of older Scots have backed the age increase.
Scottish Labour’s transport spokesman Neil Bibby MSP said: “The SNP is failing passengers up and down the country.
“Under the nationalists, vital services have been cut while ticket prices have gone up. Communities have been left stranded as key routes have been scrapped.
Think you’ll get a free bus pass at 60? Think again
THE age at which Scots qualify for a free bus pass is to rise, The Sunday Post can reveal.
In the face of soaring costs, SNP ministers are planning to increase the eligibility age for the popular concessionary travel scheme from 60.
A public consultation on the move will get under way later this year but it is understood current holders of the free bus pass will be unaffected.
The move was meant to have been launched this month but has now been put off until after May’s council elections.
The plan would leave Scots worse off than many parts of England, such as London, where the concessionary travel scheme starts at 60.
Around 200,000 people between the ages of 60 and 65 currently hold a free bus pass with many people who have retired early enjoying the benefits of the card.
Last month a £10 million black hole in the funding for the bus pass scheme was revealed in the Scottish Government’s draft budget.
Grilled by MSPs on whether entitlement for bus pass holders would remain unchanged in the wake of this cash shortfall, a top Transport Scotland official pointedly said: “For those who have the card, yes, absolutely.”
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”.
RESTRICTING times when bus pass holders can travel for free is the latest money-saving move from council chiefs.
Residents are asked to give their views on proposed alterations to the concessionary bus pass scheme in Dorset in a six-week consultation ahead of possible changes coming into force next April.
Dorset County Council subsidises a scheme which allows bus pass holders free concessionary travel before 9.30am on services where the next bus is not until after 10.30am.
However in a move to save money and free up buses it is proposed to withdraw free travel for concessionary bus pass holders before 9.30am on weekdays.
This applies to almost 50 bus services, mainly in rural communities.
It does not affect the partially sighted and blind, who would still be able to travel free any time. The companion scheme for people with disabilities would still continue, and concessionary holders would still be able to travel anytime of the day weekends and public holidays.
Councils can no longer provide pensioners and disabled people with free off-peak bus travel local leaders have warned, effectively issuing ministers with an ultimatum ahead of the Autumn Statement.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said the Government should use the Autumn Statement this month to plug a ‘funding gap’ for the concessionary bus fares scheme, which gives pensioners and disabled people in England free off-peak travel on all local bus services across England.
”Local Cllr Martin Tett, LGA transport spokesman said: ‘Years of underfunding of the scheme has forced councils to spend millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to subsidise the scheme. This is now impossible with councils having to make savings while struggling to protect vital services like adult social care, protecting children, filling potholes and collecting bins.
‘Unless the Government commits to fully funding concessionary fares, elderly and disabled people will be left stranded with a free bus pass in one hand but no local buses to travel on in the other.’
Our comment: what a prospect, good bye triple lock, good bye bus passes ?
UK businesses would also suffer a lot from either, I’d guess that pensioners our age are spending rather than hoarding their income ?