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.
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.
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. Read more
The Scottish National Party (SNP) has accused the Conservatives of doing the ‘bare minimum’ for older people and of ‘shameful’ treatment of pensioners.
In the run up to the general election in June a key battleground is over the state pension, with Labour pledging to keep the triple lock on the state pension but the Tories yet to make a commitment to this.
SNP MP for Ross Skye and Lochaber Ian Blackford has today claimed the Tory Party is u-turning on the triple lock and depriving pensioners of support.
‘The Tories have turned their back on our older people,’ he said.
‘As well as potentially u-turning on the triple lock on the state pension, they have done absolutely nothing to encourage older people to claim the vital financial support they are entitled to. Instead, the Tories are happy to let almost £300 million sit in the Treasury’s coffers rather than try and get extra support to those who need it.’
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.”
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”. Read more
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.
The historic Scottish firm has removed traditional Lion Rampant motif
Move has angered cybernats who have called Scots to boycott the treat
Managing director Boyd Tunnock was a vocal supporter of No campaign
By MAUREEN SUGDEN FOR THE SCOTTISH DAILY MAIL
It is one of Scotland’s most historic firms, whose foil-wrapped tea cakes delight tastebuds the world over.
But Tunnock’s has incurred the wrath of cybernats after rebranding the sweet treat as British, with its traditional Lion Rampant motif missing from a new advertising campaign in England.
The promotion, which has appeared on the London Underground, also describes the product as ‘Tunnock’s Great British Tea Cake’.>
Managing director Boyd Tunnock was a vocal supporter of the No campaign in the run-up to the independence referendum in 2014.
The 82-year-old biscuit baron – grandson of founder Thomas Tunnock, who started the company in Uddingston, Lanarkshire, in 1890 – said of the change: ‘It was the idea of my son-in-law, Fergus Loudon, who is the sales manager and looks after advertising. You’ve got The Great British Bake Off and things like that these days.