Saturday, 14 December 2013

Park & Ride pensioners: Turning off the tap

In our previous post, this blog called for reform of the current pensioners' free bus pass scheme. At the moment all local bus services in the country accept these passes, but that could change. Cambridge News reports that such passes will no longer be valid for use on the Cambridge Park & Ride buses from 2015 and local groups are kicking up a fuss.

The current arrangements for pensioners on Cambridge's Park & Ride buses.

But a quick look around the country reveals that OAP passes are already not accepted on the Park & Ride scheme in Chester. York and Scarborough make a charge but give a discount to passholders.

Park & Ride buses in Oxford, Cheltenham/Gloucester, Bath, Durham and Worcester do accept the concessionary passes.

Back to Cambridge, a look at the local bus map shows plenty of local routes passing each of the 5 Park & Ride sites, so no elderly motorists are going to be left at the car park.

So, what should the status of Park & Ride buses be? Part of or separate from the surrounding bus network? And should pensioners who can afford to drive be entitled to a free bus ride when everyone else has to pay? Leave a comment and let us know.


  1. Somerset (Taunton P&R) do not accept Concessionary Cards however Devon (Exeter P&R) does - the blue route from Matford doubles up as a normal route.

  2. The regulations for operating a registered bus service state that the service must accept OAP pass holders for free travel (within the permitted hours) UNLESS the service is intended mainly for tourists (there are also other conditions that must be met).
    In many cases the local authority that reimburses the bus company will make the decision. It should be remembered that reimbursement is made for any journey undertaken, irrespective of where the passholder lives. So, a resident of Essex, for example, can travel on the Cambridge P & R service and the taxpayers of Cambridge pick up the tab. The local council is likely not to be happy with that, and accordingly will declare the P & R service outwith the regulations, and that's that.
    Remember that the schemes were funded by Gordon Brown from central government until he saw the costs spiralling and quickly passed the buck to local government without ring-fencing any supporting funding. As money gets tighter, the alternative is that, as in Worcestershire and Dorset, the services themselves are under threat, or as in Cornwall and Wales, the price per OAP journey falls to ridiculous levels.
    This is quite possibly the biggest threat to rural bus services since Rural Bus Grant saved them around 15 years ago. Go and ride the routes now!!

    1. P&R service are EXCLUDED from the national scheme so if passes are accepted that is a local enhancement to the scheme which the local councils has to fund

  3. My understanding from an enquiry I made to the Department for Transport some 3/4 years ago is that if a charge is made to bus pass holders on Park and Ride it must be for other than the bus service element of the service e.g. parking. It must also be more expensive than comparable local bus services for the local authority to say it is a special service and exempt it from accepting bus passes (this info is hidden in the regulations/guidance).

    A number of those who have stopped accepting them may meet this criteria. Others may just have assumed they could stop accepting them.

    What many don't appreciate is that car parking fees are subject to VAT whereas bus fares are not which means that such a change costs you 15% of your car parking element of the fee.

    Therefore if you start making a charge to bus pass holders on the basis of it relating to parking charges the VAT it must also become equally applicable to every such charge - you cannot say only the bus pass holders are being charged for parking.

  4. Under the National Scheme Concessionry passes are not valid on Park & Ride services

  5. Not relevant to this but it has been announced that Stagecoach have taken over Norfolk Green


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