Annex C: Options not favoured by the Scottish Government

Annex C: Options not favoured by the Scottish Government

A number of those with whom we have engaged in preparing this Consultation indicated a first preference for maintaining the current age of eligibility or, if changes had to be made, for alternative approaches to be taken.  For a variety of reasons the Scottish Government is not minded to adopt these but they are listed below for information: -

1 Requiring card holders to make a small financial contribution towards the cost of each concessionary journey. 

A fixed contribution of, say, 20p, 50p or £1 would be required to be paid for each journey undertaken.  This would be relatively simple to implement and would generate significant savings. For example, a contribution of 20p per journey could save up to £17 million annually if applied to all concessionary passengers, including disabled bus pass holders as well as those qualifying on age. (Requiring a contribution only from non-disabled pass holders would reduce savings by about  10%.)

2 Levying an annual charge for access to free bus travel.

The journeys themselves would be free but there would be a fixed annual fee, for example £10 or £20. In effect, this would be like having an annual very low cost season ticket valid on all buses. Based on current usage, annual savings could be up to £13 million with a £10 charge and proportionately more for higher charges.  Excluding disabled bus pass holders from the requirement to pay a charge would reduce savings by about  10%.

The Scottish Government does not favour either of these two options because they would not be consistent with the commitment set out in the Programme for Government 2016-17 to provide free bus travel for older and disabled persons.  Option 1 could additionally lengthen boarding times and Option 2 would require new administrative arrangements, for example to issue reminders and process forms.

3 Restricting use of a bus pass during peak travel times. 

Limiting the use of the bus pass to off-peak travel might save costs by encouraging people to travel at times when bus services tend to be less busy. This can reduce costs for bus operators and possibly alleviate overcrowding at peak times.  However savings might be limited if people simply travel at different times and there could be delays to boarding times if disagreements arise over whether a journey is peak or off peak. 

4 Having a cap on the value of individual journeys which can be free. 

For example, all journeys made in a year up to an overall limit, such as £250, would be free. Travellers would have to pay for any additional journeys beyond this point until the end of the year. The level of savings would depend on the limit set but such an arrangement would allow costs to be controlled without the need for the present reimbursement capping arrangements. However new systems would be required to administer such an arrangement, including enabling passengers to tell easily how much travel they were still entitled to.

The Scottish Government is not minded to pursue either of these options at this time given the potential implementation and operational issues.

You may wish to provide comments below on these or any other way in which you believe the long-term sustainability of concessionary travel could be achieved, as well as other comments you may wish to make for improvements to the scheme.

My comments: