I’ve been reading through the comments section on the Public Transport Review on supported bus services in Devon.
For those without access to a car, or chose not to own one, or who cannot drive, or cannot afford a car, a bus service is key to a decent quality of life: with fewer buses, or none at all, journeys may not be made at all. And this is borne out in the comments being made. I fear for social isolation – and not only in rural areas, it can and will happen in urban and suburban settings.
The report from the IPPR thinktank, Greasing the Wheels: Supporting and Improving Britain’s Rail and Bus Services, highlights that the poorest make more than three times as many trips a year by bus as the richest.
But while car ownership is nearly universal among wealthier people, only 30% of households in the poorest income decile own a vehicle. Poorer groups therefore rely on bus services or have to take taxis.
The report shows that the poorest fifth of households take more taxi journeys per year than any other income group – largely due to the unavailability, unreliability and high fares of their local buses.
One reponse to DCC’s consultationmade reference to
The poor bus services provided by Exeter City Council & Devon County Council
It is worth noting that NO bus servicesin Exeter are provided by either ECC and DCC.
What top-tier local authorities (in this case Devon County Council) CAN do is subsidise bus routes that they deem are socially necessary (meaning that means it meets a public transport need) but not commercially viable.
Apart for the D-U-M-P-T services, each and every route in Exeter is operated by Stagecoach SW on a commercial basis.
D-U-M-P-T routes (whether whole service, part routes, or evening/Sunday services) under threat of withdrawal are deemed by Stagecoach to be unprofitable To ensure they do run, DCC support these services by paying Stagecoach a subsidy.
The trouble stems nearly 30 years ago, local bus services in Britain were deregulated by the Conservatives under the Transport Act 1985 and implemented from 26 October 1986.
Now nearly 30 years on, it is clear that under this legislation, the system of commercial routes and supported services is clearly failing the non-core services and the communities that depend on them. Surely the aim is for the profitable routes to cross-subsidise the uncommercial services?
Many respondents have made reference to the National Bus Pass which entitles the pass holder to free off-peak travel on local buses anywhere in England.
There have been different suggestions:
– Charge for the actual pass;
– Charge a nominal amount (50p? £1?) for each jounrney; or
– Limit the range to journeys within Devon.
To each and every one of thess the answer is the same (HT Richard Hill of DCC who patiently explains):
– Devon County Council administers the National Bus Pass according to legislation contained in the Concessionary Travel Act 2007.
– As such it is not possible – by law – for Devon County Council to request payment for the first issue of a National Bus Pass or to request that the passenger pay a contribution to the bus fare.
– It would require an act of Parliament to alter the legislation governing the National Bus Pass scheme.”