An Explanation of the Bus Service Operators Grant Scheme
The Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) is a discretionary grant paid under section 38 of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2001 by Transport Scotland on behalf of Scottish Ministers. The aim of BSOG is principally to benefit passengers by helping operators keep their fares down. In addition, providing support to bus services based on the distance they travel means that longer services receive a greater benefit than shorter services which is of particular assistance for rural areas. BSOG also contributes to the operation of community transport organisations allowing people who cannot make use of conventional bus services to access local services. This grant is payable only on a local bus service as defined in section 2 of the Transport Act 1985 or a community transport service possessing a section 19 permit. The service(s) must then meet the further requirements detailed in the Bus Service Operators Grant (Scotland) Regulations 2002 as amended. These conditions are also outlined in this document.
There is a separate information sheet for Community Bus Operators.
The process is that an eligible bus operator submits an estimate claim on form PSV 310-S which details the kilometres which are estimated to be operated during the forward claim year. When this form is received and the claims are checked and approved for payment, Transport Scotland will write to the bus operator notifying them of the amount(s) which they are due to receive and the dates on which it is intended to credit these amount(s) to the company's bank account.
Transport Scotland will then make four quarterly payments at three-monthly intervals based on the estimate. These payments are conditional upon a further claim form PSV 311-S being submitted by the company within three months of the end of the previous claim period. The form PSV 311-S should show the actual (as opposed to the estimated) kilometres operated during the period and must be certified by a qualified independent accountant/auditor.
On receipt of the certified claim form PSV 311-S Transport Scotland will calculate the actual amount of the grant that should have been paid during the period. This amount is compared with amounts already paid based on the estimate: any underpayment will result in an additional payment being made; any overpayment will usually be recovered from future quarterly payments.
All payments of BSOG are made through the Bankers Automated Clearing Service (BACS) and any new operators are asked to supply Transport Scotland with their banking details. A form for these is available on request.
For their part, companies are required, under the conditions imposed under section 38 of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2001, to keep adequate records of the kilometres run in operation of local bus services so as to satisfy both the independent accountant who must certify the actual claim form PSV 311-S and Transport Scotland that the figures on the claim are correctly stated.
It should be noted that whilst Transport Scotland's intentions are to avoid placing unnecessary administrative burdens on bus operators which are not commensurate with either the size of the operator, or its type of operations, the verification/inspection branch of the BSOG team will periodically visit bus operators for the purpose of checking that claims comply with the appropriate legislation governing the BSOG Scheme and to ensure that adequate records are being kept in support of claims.