Application and Administration of the Scheme
7.1 The majority of respondents who could recall the process of applying for a card were very positive in relation to the ease of application. This was also the case for renewal. However, focus group participants as well as disabled or visual card holders did highlight some issues about the ease of renewal; particularlythe requirement to provide proof of disablement which was problematic for some.
7.2 There were relatively few respondents who had visited the Transport Scotland website. Of those that had, the majority found the website helpful.
Use of the Card
7.3 The NEC is widely used by respondents, with 83% stating that they use their card for bus travel. This was the case for Visual and Disabled card holders in addition to 60+ card holders. The main reasons for lack of usage were that their health or disability prevented bus travel or that the card holder had a preference to drive. Additionally, a significant proportion (37%) of respondents also used their NEC for other purposes such as train travel, leisure purposes or identification.
7.4 The main reasons for travelling using the card tended to be shopping and leisure, although a higher proportion of disabled and visual impairment card holders used their NEC to travel to medical appointments.
7.5 The frequency of use and distance travelled varied depending upon the reason for usage and the geographical area in which the respondent lived. Those living in the HITRANS area, for example, were less likely to use their card a number of times per week and more likely to travel longer distances. Whereas those living in the SPT area were more likely to use their card a number of times per week and tended to travel shorter distances.
7.6 Satisfaction with bus travel when using the card was very high and very few respondents had experienced problems when using their card to travel on the bus. Where users had experienced a problem putting their card on the machine, this tended to be due to disability issues. Whilst generally drivers were perceived to be helpful in these instances, a number of the focus group respondents did identify circumstances where they had found drivers to be unhelpful and believed that they would benefit from disability awareness training.
7.7 When asked about misuse, very few respondents or focus group participants could identify instances of misuse. Awareness of Transport Scotland's helpline to report misuse was low with only one in four respondents aware of this.
Satisfaction with and benefits of the scheme
7.8 The research has found that NEC holders were extremely satisfied with the scheme overall. Not only were they extremely satisfied with the scheme, but the scheme was very important to them and they were keen to see that the scheme continued.
7.9 Survey respondents were what they believed were the most important aspects of the Concessionary Travel Card scheme. The most important aspects were identified as being the financial savings provided by the scheme, giving the individual independence or freedom and allowing the respondent to get out of the house.
7.10 The identified benefits were reinforced at the focus groups where financial savings were mentioned by every group as being a key benefit of the scheme. Some participants said that they had made considerable savings by travelling with the NEC. Others were motivated to travel because the bus was free to use. This was thought to be particularly good for older people who then did not need to worry about the cost of travelling.
7.11 The ability to get people 'out and about' was also a key benefit, and one which yielded additional benefits for respondents in relation to reducing social isolation and keeping older people active. These were both identified as having significant impacts on health and wellbeing. Young disabled people mentioned having increased confidence and independence as a key benefit of the scheme.
7.12 The NEC was also considered important for the future. Both older and disabled participants agreed that the card would become more important to them as they aged and they believed they would come to rely on it more to keep them active. For some disabled participants, driving a car was not an option for them because of the extent of their disabilities. These participants said that travelling by bus using their card would be their means of travelling independently.
7.13 Without a card, people described their circumstance as being poorer financially, with worse health and less confidence to be out and about.