Commons Gate

Ticketing on Public Transport (HC 84-iii)

Transport Committee 12 Dec 2007

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Evidence given by: 2.45 p.m. Campaign for Better Transport, Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive Passenger Focus, Anthony Smith, Chief Executive, London Travel Watch, Rufus Barnes, Chief Executive, Travel Watch South West, Gordon Edwards, Company Secretary; 3.45 p.m. Department for Transport, Tom Harris MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Bob Linnard, Director, Rail Strategy & Stakeholder Relations.

Q245 Mr. David Clelland: Our colleagues here will be aware of the fact that the introduction of the scheme impacted particularly badly on Tyne and Wear Transport Authority who found themselves with a £7 million shortfall and in order to make up for that some smaller services had to be cut and in particular the Team Travel Scheme (which was a scheme to help young people travel on a concession) had to be cut back as well. Are you aware of any other unintended consequences of the concessionary travel scheme? Have other concessions been cut back in order for authorities to be able to implement it?

Mr Joseph: One example where this unintended consequence came to South Yorkshire was as a result of the shortfall the Passenger Transport Executive started to charge buses a departure tax at bus stations. Stage Coach, for one operator, charged an extra fare if you were going to those bus stations.

Q246 Chairman: That is a unique idea, charging at a bus station to get on a bus.

Mr Joseph: Exactly. This does not make any sense to passengers at all. In answer to an earlier question about where we can get evidence from on this, what we can get evidence on is the percentage of the average adult fare passed over to operators in each local authority area. That evidence is available. In the Sussex example I gave 41.9%, for instance, of the average adult fare is being passed over compared with 73.6% in Wales, which does give you some indication of the level of shortfall. I think the particular argument in Sheffield or the result in Tyne and Wear are not defensible but to go back to the point I made, the root of this is the level and formula for reimbursement.

Q247 Mr. David Clelland: Do we think that the new specific grant is likely to go anywhere at all towards resolving any of these problems?

Mr Joseph: I think the jury is out on that. Actually when I have heard presentations from the relevant Department for Transport officials they have admitted that it is fingers in the air stuff. They really do not know where the travel is going to be; they have made a best guess. We area concerned that particularly in things like tourist honey pot areas or, for that matter, in London and some other big cities, that there will be a significant shortfall which will appear in places like Blackpool, for instance, and there will be problems with that.

Mr Edwards: Another unintended consequence, because the money goes down to district councils there are of course a lot of district councils that have received far more money for concessionary fares through the Rate Support Grant than they actually need to pay out. They are therefore able, because it comes as part of the EPCS element, to use that money on other services. If we had it all done by specific grant - which we support - a lot of district councils in the south west of England would have a major problem in how they fund certain services which are currently being funded by concessionary fares money which is not being used for that purpose. We would fully support this Committee taking district councils out as travel concession authorities.

Q248 Chairman: Are you saying that they are not good value for money anyway?

Mr Edwards: No, we are saying they are excellent value for money, the concessionary fares, but as Mr Clelland has said, he has a shortfall in Tyne and Wear and we have a short fall in greater Bristol, but we have West Devon which spends less than 50% of its current money for concessionary fares actually on concessionary fares.

Q249 Mr. David Clelland: Mr Joseph mentioned this rather novel idea of the bus companies charging passengers to use certain bus stations. Are there any other consequences for the fare paying passengers by the introduction of concessionary fares?

Mr Joseph: As I said in my earlier answer to Mr Stringer, I think it is very much about cuts in the commercial services, increases in off-peak fares and other things and Mr Edwards has also mentioned this too. It is much less high profile than the charges at bus stations or the loss of a particular scheme; it is incremental eating away of the bus network and incremental increases in fares.

This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee. Neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.

The full transcript may be read at

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