Free Bus Journeys

  oresome 21:48 05 Sep 2008

I note that some councils are already complaining that the Government grant is insufficent to meet the costs passed onto them by the bus companies for the non fee paying passengers carried.

I don't know if the scheme has had a better take than anticipated or if it was convenient at the time to come up with a low estimate of costs.

You usually find that demand is stimulated when somethings free.

  peter99co 22:00 05 Sep 2008

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the costs. The bus firms say there is a shortfall and the government says it has given more than enough.

No one has said how the cash is distributed so it is difficult to know who is right.

Do the bus companies have to provide details of passenger numbers to receive a grant?

Is it possible that money is being creamed off somewhere along the way to the bus operators.

I know some companies have said they will have to cut some routes out to reduce costs. That's not much good if you live along the scrapped route.

A minister on TV said they had provided a figure (forgot the amount) which he said was more than enough to cover the costs.

Smoke and Mirrors?

  Woolwell 22:33 05 Sep 2008

It is a bit of a nonsense. My wife and I are both in work but because we are over 60 we get a free bus pass.
When we get on the bus we get issued a ticket so I guess that the bus companies have to record passenger numbers. You cannot get a return ticket.
It should have been fairly obvious that there would be a big take-up.

  Bingalau 22:47 05 Sep 2008

The novelty will wear off. Numbers will reduce.

  citadel 22:48 05 Sep 2008

Sunday services have been badly hit in my area, plus price increases.

  Jim Thing 22:49 05 Sep 2008

"A minister on TV said they had provided a figure (forgot the amount) which he said was more than enough to cover the costs."

They all say that. It's part of the script they have to learn when they're appointed, together with "we're spending £xxxx of government money this year on [name any failing public service] — that lot over there only spent £yyyy."

Note that there's no such thing as government money — it's your money and mine. If it was their own they'd be a damn sight more careful how it was spent.

But I don't suppose that lot over there will do much better.

Cynical? Who, me?

  DieSse 22:53 05 Sep 2008

"A minister on TV said they had provided a figure (forgot the amount) which he said was more than enough to cover the costs."

Well, (as Mandy Rice-Davies once said) - "he would say that, wouldn't he"

And how on earth does he claim to know what those costs are? He won't know the uptake figures and the on-costs, only the bus companies will know them.

And then again - what would they be doing anyway providing, in his words, MORE than enough.

Really one has to wonder at the thinking capacity behind some of these statements.

  oresome 22:55 05 Sep 2008

"If it was their own they'd be a damn sight more careful how it was spent."

No..........they'd keep a caeful record and claim it back on expenses!

  spuds 23:28 05 Sep 2008

According to the official government line.

"additional funding of £212m will be provided by special grant for the period 2008/2009 followed by £217m for 2009/2010 and £223m for 2010/2011. This is in addition to the funding that the government provides every year, through the formula grant process, for existing statutory minimum concession of free off-peak travel. Further to that, the government is confident this additional funding is sufficient to meet the total cost to local authorities".

Council's have had funding provided previously for 'free travel concessions', and it was left to the council's as to the way the funds or government grant was used. Some council's chose different criteria, hence the way confusion progressed as to what was actually available in certain areas of the country, and how the money was spent.

In my own part of the country, our local council chose to use the funding for some alternative uses. The government are now stating that the council's are to blame for any shortfalls in the scheme, and the additional annual supplements should be more than enough to cover any shortfalls. If it isn't, then its you local council who is to blame, see your local councillor for an explanation.

I have gone into great lengths to find out about the 'Free Travel Concessions' and practises, and in all fairness, it is totally confusing as to 'what is' and 'what should be', especially on over border or county, different authority usage.

It was assumed at one point, that a 'free travel' pass holder could virtually travel with very limited restrictions country-wide (like Eire), not so. To travel within the 'free travel' scheme countrywide in England and within England's borders, it would take approximately six days with 'non-free travel' in parts. Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland have different schemes and procedures, which even adds to further confusions as to 'free travel' for the over 60's, disabled and special cases.

  peter99co 23:36 05 Sep 2008

I was right then. It is being creamed off for others uses. Typical local mafia councils at it again.

  Bapou 23:55 05 Sep 2008

I use my pass only when going into Newcastle City Centre, which is about twice a month. Last week, for no particular reason I read the contents on the ticket. It recorded me boarding three stops earlier, the fare nil.

Asking my wife, who uses the service more often, if I had been of fare paying age, would there have been a difference in price? Very much so it seems. She also mentioned it's not unusual to be given two tickets for the one journey.

Now I don't have a clue as to how the bus company is reimbursed but it does make me wonder.

Maybe I should not be so cynical in my old age!

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