Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Dorset strikes over / Devon cuts pass validity

The series of strikes that have affected First in Dorset are over. The company and union have reached a compromise, reports BBC News.

The validity of pensioners' free passes is to be cut back on some routes in Devon. The Express & Echo reports that the county council has decided to stop accepting the passes for travel on certain routes that it supports. One of the routes this affects is the PR3 Exeter Park & Ride service, which doubles up as one of the main ways of accessing the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital. Pensioners are still insulated from the real cost of their travel however as on that route at least, they will be entitled to a special return fare of just £1.20 - at the taxpayers' and full-farepayers' expense of course. This could be just the start: if national government won't reform how the unaffordable passes are funded, councils and bus operators will have no option but to gradually reduce their validity in order to make ends meet.


  1. Its about time something was done about the free passes. To late though for the EYMS Driffield garage which is being closed thanks to a £240,000 cut for free bus pass payments by East Ridings council.

  2. Do you then not believe that everyone should pay full the fare?
    Why for instance should children etc get discounts?

    I'm not saying it should be that way but your comments on this issue often come over in a targeted almost ageist way. You may not mean it but that is how they come over at times.

    The problem lies with the funding of the scheme not those who benefit from it.

    Yes I have a bus pass (which I use sparingly) but I also still work - self employed - and pay tax.

    The worry some of us have and some do not appear to understand is that operators receive the reimbursement as part of their overall revenue. If this stream of revenue does not hold up or get replaced then it will put services at risk. This is the problem the transport authorities are facing as revenue drops on the contracted services.

    If government national or local makes savings by changes or cuts to the scheme/s the chances of this money being transferred over to fund bus services or anything else you may aspire are from my direct experience less than zero.

    So yes by all means press for change but be aware of the risks and blame the funding not the pass holders.

  3. Is the charging proposed in Exeter legal?

    (This is a separate question from any debate about the principle of the bus pass and its future,)

  4. The Regulations do allow the exclusion of services "primarily for tourism" and those where the fare includes an "amenity element", which presumably includes Park and Ride as long as the fare includes the car park charge.

  5. I commented on this elsewhere from investigations I had to make a few years ago when considering if the use of bus passes could be stopped on P & R. In that case parking was free and everyone paid on bus. The following may then be different in other cases.

    Firstly the to meet the criteria the charge for using P & R would have had to have been higher than on comparable local bus service so that an element could clearly be identified as being for something other than the bus journey.

    Secondly that amount (or portion of the fee) would then have had to be the car parking charge - which is VAT'able. Which then must equally apply to all users - a cost the service didn't currently bare and which the tax authorities might find a way of backdating - as tax men do!

    The accountants considered several options and variables and decided that it would result in lost revenue of six figures - so best left alone.

    It wasn't the answer we had hoped for.


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