16 November 2008

DfT considers Bus Pass regulation

The Department of Transport is currently looking at some form of regulation to make the rules, as to where Over 60's National Free Bus Passes may be used, easier to understand by the public and staff.

The following from the DfT:

We are proposing to insert additional eligibility criteria into the existing Order with the objective of increasing the clarity of which services should be included in the statutory concession and to ensure that only services that are within the spirit of the legislation are eligible.

The proposed changes will not prevent local authorities including services that do not meet the criteria in their concessionary travel schemes on a discretionary basis.

We are considering adding five criteria to the existing list. It is proposed that the following types of service should be explicitly excluded from the statutory concession:
  1. Services on which the majority of seats can be reserved in advance of travel
  2. Services that do not run at least once per week for a period of at least 6 consecutive weeks
  3. Services that run primarily for the historical value or tourism
  4. Rail replacement services
  5. Services where the fare charged by the operator has a special amenity element.

These proposals are independent of each other. As a result of this consultation, all, some, or none of the proposals could be included in the regulations.

Item 1 is particularly significant as, at present, holders of the National Bus Pass can travel over any of a number of sections of National Express routes which are registered as "local services", on a standby basis only and only if spare seats are available. The new rule, if brought in, would effectively rule out the use of Bus Passes on all National Express services. The DfT themselves stated,"It is not the intention of the concession to offer free travel on coaches."

Further information on the proposals can be seen in the DfT website, please click here. (PW)