The highly successful concessionary travel schemes operated by Transport Scotland continued to provide free or subsidised access to public transport for over one million eligible travellers throughout Scotland. We also contributed to the three-year review of concessionary travel which will help shape future delivery.

Over the course of the year we have placed a greater focus on the delivery of the electronic Smartcard ticketing programme to support the Concessionary Travel Scheme and any future integrated ticketing strategy. That improvement process is underway and a status report will be delivered to the Board in the autumn.

During this year some of the bus operators who participated in the Scotland-wide concessionary travel schemes have ceased to trade. The legislation under which the operators are refunded requires that they are to be paid by Transport Scotland at the beginning of each financial period. Accordingly, their payments are calculated based on estimates of the number of concessionary passengers that they will carry and later adjusted when they submit a final claim. This has, in a limited number of cases, where the operator has been paid and ceases to trade, made it very difficult to recover any overpayment. With the introduction of use of smartcards this will substantially reduce any potential loss of this nature.

We have put in place a robust fraud strategy which was approved by Ministers in February 2009. This enables us to deal effectively with any suspected fraudulent claims for reimbursement by bus operators. It gives clear guidance on gathering of evidence and on deterrent options which best use the media when any operator is charged with conducting a fraud against the scheme.

As a further measure the Concessionary Fares Unit of Transport Scotland has been approved as a Specialist Reporting Agency and will in future be able to report suspected fraud direct to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. This will further enhance our ability to tackle suspected fraud quickly and effectively.

We issued a consultation document outlining the ways in which integrated ticketing might be developed across Scotland, providing easy to use, seamless journeys across different modes of transport which are more attractive to users and thereby encouraging greater use of public transport. There was strong support for taking forward integrated ticketing within Scotland.

The planned transfer of responsibility to Transport Scotland for delivery of the Scottish Bus Service Operator Grant Scheme was deferred until April 2010.