The Labour government was considering changing the manner in which BSOG is paid, from a per mile basis to per passenger. The new coalition government had let it be known that it would be willing to consider anything to save money, which included the removal of BSOG altogether. This would effectively see bus passengers - the least affluent of all those travelling by any mode of public transport - have to pay tax.
The coalition-run DfT has made an unusual move by publishing the cash amount every single bus operator, entitled to BSOG, claimed during the past year. It can be downloaded from the DfT website, which we link to below.
BSOG Data (click the link dated 20/8/10, currently at the top of the page)
What does the data show? Well, all entitled operators in England and Wales claimed a total of £393 million during the past year. 34 private undertakings in the LEYTR area were entitled to BSOG (details of which will be given in the next edition). NX's Travel West Midlands bus company claimed the most - just over £23 million. Over a six-monthly period, charitable organisations claimed £2.8 million.
Local authorities who run their own bus services are listed, as is every operator of every qualifying bus service in the country. If the operator you're searching for isn't listed where you expect, i.e. by fleet name (all are listed alphabetically), some go by trading name. For example, the Stagecoach East Midlands group is not listed, however its constituent parts are: East Midland Motor Services, Lincolnshire Roadcar Limited (minibus), Stagecoach Lincolnshire and Stagecoach in Hull (i.e. not Cleveland Transit for the latter).
Why has this data suddenly been released? Knowing what a company received last year is one thing, but it cannot be placed into context as the number of vehicles operated and claimed mileage is not given. In which case it is more likely to be an exercise by the DfT or, more cynically, a ploy to illustrate to the wider population just how many millions is handed out to bus operators each year. In which case, we expect a similar document to be produced on the tax exemptions airlines and the rail industry receive annually.