Concessionary Travel - Customer Feedback Research Year Two Report



5.1 Respondents, both in the qualitative research and in the telephone survey, were asked about their usage of their Concessionary Travel Card and any problems they have had.

Using the card to travel by bus

5.2 The vast majority of respondents said they used the concessionary travel card to travel by bus (91%). These findings are in line with the focus group findings where the majority used their NEC on buses. This included local buses as well as intercity buses.

5.3 Perhaps unsurprisingly, respondents living in urban areas were most likely to use their card to travel by bus (93%) whereas those living in remote rural areas least likely (80%). Analysis by transport area revealed that respondents in the Highland Transport area (81%) and the South West transport area (77%) were least likely to use their card to travel by bus. It is also interesting to note 60+ card holders are as likely to use their card to travel on the bus aged 60-64 as they are aged 65+.

5.4 Those who did not use the concessionary travel card to travel by bus were asked why. The main reasons were the respondent was still driving or preferred to travel by car (58%) or that a disability or their health prevented them from doing so (35%). These were also the two most commonly cited reasons for not using the card to travel by bus in 2013.

Table 5.1: Reasons for not using card to travel by bus
Q5 If not why not?
Base: do not use card to travel by bus, n 2014= 285; n 2013=429 2014 % 2013 %
Still driving/ prefer to use the car 58% 33%
Don't use public transport due to health/ disability 35% 46%
There is no bus service where I live 10% 4%
Use the train due to lack of bus service/ its more practical/ easier 7% 6%
No need to use it 5% 5%
Too afraid to travel by bus 2% 1%
Use taxis 1% 5%
Try to walk everywhere as opposed to getting the bus 1% 1%
Lost my card 1% 1%
Card expired 1% 1%
Don't like using buses 0% 1%

5.5 Analysis of why respondents do not use the card to travel by bus showed that respondents who had a disabled or visually impaired card were more likely to say that they did not use public transport due to their health or disability (57%) or used taxis (7%). Those who held a 60+ card were more likely to say that they were still driving or preferred to use the car (62% compared to 23% of those with disabled or visually impaired cards). Additionally, respondents in rural areas and remote small towns were more likely to state that there was no bus service where they live as their reason for not using their card to travel by bus.

Other uses of the National Entitlement Card

5.6 Almost 4 out of 10 respondents (38%) said they had used their travel card for other things than free bus travel. This is the same level as was reported in 2013. This was significantly more likely to be the case in the Strathclyde (53%) and Shetland (53%) transport areas and least likely to be the case in the South West (13%).

5.7 These individuals were asked what other uses they had for their travel card. The majority stated, as was also the case in 2013, that they use it for train travel (68%).

Table 5.2: Other uses of National Entitlement Card
Q6 Do you use the Card for anything other than free bus travel?
Base: use card for activities other than free bus travel n 2014=1159; n 2013 =998 2014 % 2013 %
Train travel 68% 69%
Identification 22% 16%
Library 11% 9%
Leisure services 8% 9%
Swimming 5% 5%
Ferry 5% 4%
Other 1% 1%
Taxi card 1% 0%

5.8 Analysis by aged revealed that respondents age under 65 were significantly more likely to use their card for leisure services than those aged over 65 (15% of under 65s compared to 5% of over 65s).

5.9 Geographical analysis indicated that respondents living in the Strathclyde transport area were significantly more likely to state that they used their card also for train travel (87%). Those living in Highland (37%) and Shetland (70%) transport areas were significantly more likely to state that they used their card for ferry travel.

5.10 The focus groups revealed that the majority of people used their NEC on buses. This included local buses, intercity buses and more so this year, national buses from Glasgow or Edinburgh to Inverness, Aberdeen or Aviemore for example.

5.11 A few participants had used their NEC for discounted travel on train journeys. Some blind and visually impaired participants stated they used the train regularly. Some participants found it confusing that each local authority charged a different rate for their companion.

"I'm blind with a Companion Card and I can use the card on the train to go anywhere in Scotland - but my companion can't. In Glasgow, my companion is a half fare...but it changes depending where you are. It can be embarrassing to be pulled up by the driver and told that the companion has to pay. It can be a problem."
(Male, Companion Card holder)

5.12 Three blind and visually impaired participants also commented on using their NEC for travel on ferries. There were mixed views about how often this was allowed using the card; with some using it for two trips a year, while another said they travelled monthly on the ferry.

5.13 A few participants, particularly those in rural areas, had used their card to access the dial-a-bus service, whereby a bus collects and drops-off passengers from their home address.

5.14 Other participants reported using the NEC for discounted entry to museums, to the cinema, leisure facilities such as swimming pools and one participant had used the NEC for taking out library books.

"I've been to lots of museums, like the Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh and I used the pass to get a discount."
(Male, older person's group)

5.15 One group of participants included parents of disabled children. These parents reported that they did have Companion Cards allowing them to travel for free with their children - but the majority chose not to use public transport. These parents reported they found it too stressful to travel with their children on public transport. This was based on their experiences with other passengers complaining about their children's behaviour or the parents' feeling too embarrassed to stay on the bus as a result of their child's behaviour. Many of the children had autism or Tourettes syndrome.

"I wouldn't take him on public transport - he's unpredictable."
(Female, parent - disabled children's group)

Problems experienced when travelling by bus

5.16 Almost 1 in 5 respondents who use their card for bus travel (17%) said that they had experienced problems with their card when travelling by bus. This is a significant increase compared to 2013 where 8% stated that they had experienced a problem. The most commonly cited problems were in relation to issues with the ticket machine which was experienced by 1 in 10 respondents. This was most likely to be the case in the Strathclyde transport region (13%) and the South East (12%).

Figure 5.3: Problems experienced when travelling by bus

Figure 5.3: Problems experienced when travelling by bus

Base: use card to travel by bus; n 2014=2803, n 2013=2697

5.17 A total of 50 survey respondents said they had a problem physically putting the card on the machine. Of these, 36 were disabled or visually impaired card holders. When asked to explain the difficulty the majority stated that that their mobility was reduced so that either their carer or the driver would help them to put their card on the machine.

5.18 This was mirrored by focus group respondents where a number of blind and visually impaired participants reported some difficulties when trying to access the bus, such as locating the card reader, which was not always in the same position on every bus. Some participants had found driver's to be helpful and scan their NEC for them; while others had been left to do it themselves, which they found frustrating - particularly when the bus was busy.

"There is a hole to put the card through, but it can be difficult to find. Sometimes the driver will take the card and scan it, but sometimes they won't."
(Female, blind and visually impaired group)

"There's quite a lot of things to ask the driver, like where the scanner is, and if they can tell me when we get to my destination and this can be hard in a busy city centre when there are lots of other people waiting to get on the bus."
(Female, blind and visually impaired group)

5.19 Participants from the blind and visually impaired discussion reported that Guide Dogs for the Blind had carried out training with Stagecoach bus drivers in response to their comments of poor driver attitude. Participants reported that they had since seen a positive change in the drivers' attitude towards blind passengers.

"It suddenly got good. It was an overnight change. It's good to see it worked."
(Male, blind and visually impaired group)

7 day pass

5.20 Of those who stated that they had experienced their card not working (157 respondents), 43% said they handed over their card and got issued with a 7 day pass to allow them to travel before they received their new card.

5.21 Some focus group participants had also had to receive a new card because theirs had been lost or broken. There were nine participants who reported their card had broken or cracked. All were issued with a seven day pass by the driver and received their new cards quickly.

"Another time my card snapped on the machine. The driver held onto it and told me a number to phone to get a new one. It came within a week."
(Female, Companion Card holder)

Multiple concessionary cards

5.22 Just 2% of respondents (n=55) stated that they have more than one concessionary bus pass that they use for travel. Most commonly, respondents stated that they didn't know why they had more than one card (23 respondents). Other commonly cited reasons for having more than one card were that they have residence in more than one Scottish local authority area (14 respondents), that they had an additional card 'simply for convenience' (5 respondents) and that they had ordered a new card as they had lost their card and had subsequently found it (4 respondents).

5.23 In the focus groups, unlike in year one when three participants admitted to having more than one card, this year none of the participants stated they had multiple NECs.

"You're only allowed one card."
(Female, older person's group)

Misuse of the card

5.24 Just 0.5% of respondents (15 respondents) stated that they have ever given their card to anyone else to use.

5.25 Only 2% of respondents (55 respondents) said they had seen or experienced abuse or misuse of the bus pass. When asked about the type of behaviour they had seen or experienced, the most common reasons given were that they had seen the driver refusing people for trying to use someone else's card (26 respondents) or the respondent perceived the driver printing the wrong destination on the ticket to be abuse or misuse of the bus pass (13 respondents).

5.26 As was also the case in year one, the majority of focus group participants were not aware of any examples of misuse. A few participants commented that the photograph printed onto the card made fraudulent use more difficult, while others thought that it would be easy to use a card that did not belong to you, because the driver rarely checks the photograph.

"It would be easy (to misuse the card); drivers rarely clock your photo."
(Male, older person's group)

"The photo on it - it's scanned on, it's not stuck on, so it can't be faked."
(Female, rural group)

5.27 At two discussion groups with older participants, there were comments relating to the number of "young people" who appeared to have a NEC. The inference from the older participants was that young people must be using the card fraudulently. There was very little awareness among older participants that young people could have a card because of a disability; and that disabilities need not be physical.

"You tell is it these young folk have a card. They're at it!"
(Female, rural group)

"I see it abused a lot - young people who look fit...I get the impression they are abusing the scheme."
(Male, older person's group)

5.28 One participant with a visual impairment said that he is often challenged as to why he has a NEC, because he "doesn't look disabled."

"I've had people look at me and say 'why the hell have you got a pass?' I'm not walking about with a sign on my head that says 'I can't see' so I do get discriminated against."
(Male, Companion Card holder)

5.29 Almost three in ten respondents (29%) said they were aware that they can report abuse of the scheme to Transport Scotland's hotline. This is a marginal increase from 26% in 2013. Respondents who lived in the South West (33%) and the Strathclyde transport (32%) areas were most aware of this and respondents in the Shetland transport area least likely to be aware (12%).

5.30 Focus group participants were asked specifically whether they were aware that they could report misuse to Transport Scotland through their helpline. Only one group of older adults were aware of this; and one had used it to report the group's concerns of over-staging. They spoke positively of the service they received.

5.31 While other participants were not previously aware of the hotline, all were pleased that such a service existed should they need it. They were reassured that Transport Scotland was taking misuse of the NEC seriously with the establishment of the helpline.

"I'm impressed there is a hotline."
(Male, older person's group)

Companion cards

5.32 Those who had a companion card (n=225) were asked how often they had someone travelling with them as their companion. Just over 4 in 10 of these individuals (44%) said this was every time their travelled, 26% said it was most of the time, 20% said some of the time, 8% said rarely and 1% said they never have a companion travelling with them. This is a relatively similar profile to the 2013 survey.

5.33 In the discussions with Companion Card holders, they did not report any issues when getting on the bus with a companion. Their companions always travelled for free and without any challenge from the driver. However, some participants commented that although they were entitled to travel with someone; they might choose to travel alone. When presenting the 'plus one' card to the driver some people had been challenged as to why they needed a Companion Card, if they were able to travel without a companion. This had made these participants feel vulnerable and upset.

"I felt stigmatised and uncomfortable - the driver made comments and didn't believe I needed a card."
(Female, people with mental health issues group)

"The drivers don't like it when I get on without a companion. The drivers think that if I can travel without a companion then I don't need a card."
(Female, people with mental health issues group)

5.34 One young, disabled participant spoke of how she was nervous about travelling on the bus because she was unsteady on her feet. She has since been allocated an 'assistance card' by her GP. The card allows the passenger to attach relevant icons to the card alerting the driver to their specific needs. For example, this participant had added stickers indicating she has both visual and mobility problems as well as problems with her speech. She reported that this card had made a "huge difference" to her experience on the bus.

Overall satisfaction with bus travel

5.35 More than 9 in 10 respondents (95%) expressed satisfaction in relation to their experience of travelling on the bus generally compared to 3% who said they were dissatisfied. These are very similar levels of satisfaction to 2013.

Figure 5.4: Overall satisfaction with bus travel

Figure 5.4: Overall satisfaction with bus travel

Base: use their card to travel on the bus; n 2014=2803, n 2013=2697

5.36 Whilst there are clearly very low levels of dissatisfaction, analysis by transport area revealed that respondents in the South West (95%), Highlands and Islands (84%) and Shetland (82%) transport areas had the largest proportion of respondents stating they were very satisfied. On the other hand, those who lived in the Strathclyde transport area (70%) had the lowest proportion stating they were very satisfied.

5.37 Disabled and visually impaired card holders were marginally less likely to be 'very satisfied' with bus travel overall than 60+ card holders (65% compared to 78% very satisfied).

5.38 Those who were dissatisfied (n=81) were asked to give their reasons for feeling this way. The main reasons given were that buses were perceived as being old, dirty, unpleasant or uncomfortable to travel in (23 respondents), that the route or timing of the buses were inconvenient (18 respondents), that drivers attitude was poor (14 respondents), or that buses could be unreliable or too infrequent (9 respondents).

5.39 The focus groups also identified some dissatisfaction in relation to bus travel, in particular relating to driver attitude. There were examples from participants of drivers moving off before people had the chance to sit down, or apparent refusals to provide a ramp for wheelchair users.

"Some drivers won't lower the ramp; they'll say the bus will tip up if they put it down."
(Male, older person's group)

"I've had drivers tell me that 'people like me shouldn't be out 'and others refuse to let me on - they see me at the bus stop in all weathers and just drive on because they can't be bothered to lower the ramp."
(Female, Companion Card holder)

5.40 However, there were also some positive examples this year of good driver behaviour, although these were in the minority, with two participants able to provide examples of where they felt they had good service from the driver.

"We had food shopping and my husband walks with two sticks; the driver took us beyond our stop and dropped us at our front door. That's the one and only time I've seen them do that."
(Female, older person's group)

"The bus was busy, but he lowered the platform and helped this woman on with her wheelchair and got her in position before driving off."
(Male, older person's group)

Overall satisfaction with Concessionary Travel Scheme

5.41 Following on from this, respondents were asked how satisfied they were overall with the concessionary travel card scheme. As was the case in 2013, satisfaction was extremely high with 98% of all respondents stating they were either very or fairly satisfied in this respect.

Figure 5.5: Overall satisfaction with the Concessionary Travel Card scheme

Figure 5.5: Overall satisfaction with the Concessionary Travel Card scheme

Base: use their card to travel on the bus; n 2014=2803, n 2013=2697

5.42 The North East transport area had the lowest proportion of respondents stating they were 'very satisfied' when compared to other areas (92%). Again, respondents holding a disabled or visually impaired card were marginally less likely to state that they were very satisfied (93%).


5.43 The National Entitlement Card is widely used, with the majority of respondents using it for bus travel. A significant minority are also using the NEC for other purposes including train travel, leisure purposes, identification or other methods of travel.

5.44 Overall, the experience of travelling by bus was very satisfactory. Respondents could identify very few problems when travelling by bus, although, disabled and visually impaired respondents were more likely to be able to identify problems in relation to accessibility of bus travel and the attitude of drivers and other passengers.