Concessionary Fares

A recent UCL-led study found that older adults who own concessionary bus passes are likely to report better quality of life and fewer depressive symptoms than peers who do not have the benefits of free bus travel. It found that older adults with bus passes were also more physically active and less socially isolated than counterparts without bus passes.

And maintaining wellbeing is likely to help people stay physically healthy in later life, thus reducing the financial costs associated with an ageing population.

A study for Greener Journeys found that every £1 spent on the concessionary fares scheme generates at least £2.87 in benefits. Half of the benefits accrue directly and immediately to concessionary travellers themselves, around 20% of the benefits to other bus passengers and other road users from transport network improvements, and the rest to the wider community from wider economic and social impacts and in particular from improvements in health and wellbeing.

Bus passes

Rural areas

In locations where commercial bus operations are not viable, tendered services are often a vital lifeline to communities. However, funding for local authority supported bus services in England outside London has nearly halved in the past eight years and in 2017/18 alone nearly two-thirds of authorities reduced spending or spent nothing on supported bus services. This can leave people isolated and contribute to poverty, social exclusion and increased car dependence.

rethinking mobility in rural England

Bus Service Operator Grant (BSOG)

A key factor in delivering a wide range of bus services to communities is the provision by the Government of the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) in England. The House of Commons Transport Committee acknowledged in its report to Parliament that BSOG keeps fares 3% lower, service levels 6.7% higher and patronage 4.4% higher. It also enables operators to maintain services that might not otherwise be profitable. Studies consistently demonstrate that BSOG is an effective intervention which is very simple and efficient to administer, and which is becoming ever more important given the reduction in supported services by local authorities.

We call on the government to:

  • Confirm that existing public sector investment in discretionary concessionary schemes will continue, to provide a stable financial environment for the implementation of operator-led discounted fares for apprentices and job seekers, and for LTAs to work with operators to implement schemes.
  • Establish a joint working group to identify and trial alternative bus solutions for rural communities, drawing on the diverse capabilities of the commercial, voluntary and public sectors. As part of this, provide capital funding to kick-start the roll-out of ‘Total Transport’ partnerships between LTAs, operators and other partners, and encourage central and local government agencies, including the NHS, to participate in integrated bus network planning and delivery
  • Avoid making sudden, radical changes to BSOG, and ensure that any future reform is phased, recognising the devastating impact that a sudden loss of funding could have on the bus market.

And in return we commit to:

  • Supporting travel for apprentices and job seekers by expanding discounted ticketing to them by 2021.
  • Supporting the well-being of our communities by providing bus services that better reflect the needs of passengers and local communities.
  • Working with transport industry and public sector partners to develop and trial rural bus plans so that customers in countryside locations are better connected locally and to urban areas.