Pensioners offer to ‘subsidise’ rural bus services in North Yorkshire

Gazette & Herald: . .

Rural pensioners have offered to pay towards their bus fares in a bid to save threatened services – only to be told Government policy makes this impossible.

North Yorkshire County Council is grappling with where to cut subsidised bus services as it reduces its bus subsidy by 25 per cent, equivalent to £1.1 million a year, following Government cuts.

It spends £4.4m a year subsidising 20 per cent of non-commercially viable journeys. North Yorkshire is particularly affected with a population over a large area and a large elderly population.

The council’s transport overview and scrutiny committee discussed a report on its consultations on Thursday. More than 1,600 people protested, with 15 petitions and 29 letters from MPs sent to the council.

Councillors expressed concern about the impact on vulnerable and elderly people. Many also said residents with bus passes were offering to pay voluntary contributions.

In a statement, County Councillor David Jeffels said there seemed to be “quite considerable support from older generations to make contributions”.

However, chairman of the meeting, Robert Packham, said the council was legally unable to allow people to pay towards the cost as it was Government policy to provide free bus passes for older people.

He said people were suggesting they would pay a contribution of about 50p to £1, but not the fare, which was not legally possible.

“The only option is that people don’t use their pass and pay a full fare. They’re faced with a £3.50 to £4 fare which is more than they feel reasonable to contribute. That’s the dilemma.”

He said the only solution was to make representations to Government.

Coun John Clark said cutting bus services would potentially increase costs for social services by leaving some people isolated, and said the focus should not just be on preserving services for rural, isolated communities.

“You can be just as isolated if you live one mile from the town centre in Pickering as someone 15 miles in the hills if you can’t walk that one mile to get to the doctors or hairdressers,” he said.

He said if elderly people became cut off and unable to perform basic tasks such as shopping, social services would have to step in at greater cost.

“The cost for caring for that person becomes greater than the bus subsidy for the whole town for the whole year.”

The committee decided to look at finding funding through commercial sponsorship and set up a working group to explore the issues.

They also said possible future funding reductions needed to be considered.

Comments (16)

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9:34am Sat 21 Dec 13

twotonethomas says...

You can have a free bus service until we can't afford to provide it.

But you can't pay for your bus service.

Lunatics and asylum spring to mind!
You can have a free bus service until we can't afford to provide it. But you can't pay for your bus service. Lunatics and asylum spring to mind! twotonethomas

10:57am Sat 21 Dec 13

Thecynic says...

Could only happen in Britain!

About time we got rid of all this 'red tape' nonsense
Could only happen in Britain! About time we got rid of all this 'red tape' nonsense Thecynic

11:12am Sat 21 Dec 13

Stevie D says...

Rural pensioners have offered to pay towards their bus fares in a bid to save threatened services – only to be told Government policy makes this impossible.
That's nonsense ... and if they were given that advice from NYCC then it's proof that the county council is hell-bent on destroying public services regardless of the cost.

The law states that bus companies cannot demand or ask for a contribution to the fare from people using the concessionary pass. It does not state that pensioners can't pay to use the bus. If the community along one route gets together and a load of pensioners who use the bus regularly agree that one time in four, they pay a cash fare instead of swiping their passes, in order to help maintain the service, that is entirely legal and admirable.

Sure, if the full fare is £4 then pensioners might feel that they can only contribute £1 each journey. But they aren't allowed to make top-up payments. So instead pay the cash fare on a quarter of journeys. No, the bus company won't get quite as much money that way, but they will get more than if the pensioners don't pay cash fares at all. For the council not to have considered this option and discussed it with the passengers concerned is either inept or irresponsible, but either way tells the contempt that NYCC has for its rural bus users.
[quote]Rural pensioners have offered to pay towards their bus fares in a bid to save threatened services – only to be told Government policy makes this impossible.[/quote]That's nonsense ... and if they were given that advice from NYCC then it's proof that the county council is hell-bent on destroying public services regardless of the cost. The law states that bus companies cannot demand or ask for a contribution to the fare from people using the concessionary pass. It does [bold]not[/bold] state that pensioners can't pay to use the bus. If the community along one route gets together and a load of pensioners who use the bus regularly agree that one time in four, they pay a cash fare instead of swiping their passes, in order to help maintain the service, that is entirely legal and admirable. Sure, if the full fare is £4 then pensioners might feel that they can only contribute £1 each journey. But they aren't allowed to make top-up payments. So instead pay the cash fare on a quarter of journeys. No, the bus company won't get [italic]quite[/italic] as much money that way, but they will get more than if the pensioners don't pay cash fares at all. For the council not to have considered this option and discussed it with the passengers concerned is either inept or irresponsible, but either way tells the contempt that NYCC has for its rural bus users. Stevie D

4:25pm Sat 21 Dec 13

old_geezer says...

"Government policy makes this impossible" - then how come I pay 70p for an inward journey on York's Park & Ride? (And am happy to do so)
"Government policy makes this impossible" - then how come I pay 70p for an inward journey on York's Park & Ride? (And am happy to do so) old_geezer

10:54pm Sat 21 Dec 13

granny sue says...

I have been to almost every meeting about buses in our area and at NYCC since the consultation began around august. It has been difficult getting forms out to people as it has been mainly an internet led consultation We have filled in forms, petitions, surveys done everything that can be physically done to get across to the NYCC what the loss of our Town Bus would mean. The fact that many people would be willing to pay something towards it is being ignored. The best comment at last weeks NYCC meeting was from a Cllr who asked " how are we supposed to run a public transport system if we have no buses" It's a pity he didn't start asking that 4 months ago. It was awful really as one of the cllrs kept nodding off. and only 5 or 6 of them said anything. I wish I could earn money as easy as they do. The committee last week have sent 5 proposals to the executive committee which meet to decide the outcome on 7th January which gives them about 4 working days to do anything if you factor in Christmas.
I have been to almost every meeting about buses in our area and at NYCC since the consultation began around august. It has been difficult getting forms out to people as it has been mainly an internet led consultation We have filled in forms, petitions, surveys done everything that can be physically done to get across to the NYCC what the loss of our Town Bus would mean. The fact that many people would be willing to pay something towards it is being ignored. The best comment at last weeks NYCC meeting was from a Cllr who asked " how are we supposed to run a public transport system if we have no buses" It's a pity he didn't start asking that 4 months ago. It was awful really as one of the cllrs kept nodding off. and only 5 or 6 of them said anything. I wish I could earn money as easy as they do. The committee last week have sent 5 proposals to the executive committee which meet to decide the outcome on 7th January which gives them about 4 working days to do anything if you factor in Christmas. granny sue

2:41am Sun 22 Dec 13

browbeaten says...

Councils throughout the country appear to have lost all sense of direction and purpose. The management teams could ALL see a 50% reduction in senior managers with no reduction to services. Unfortunately the very people who need culling are the very self same town hall taliban who are the so called decision makers. This state of affairs is both corrupt and needs sorting out.
Councils throughout the country appear to have lost all sense of direction and purpose. The management teams could ALL see a 50% reduction in senior managers with no reduction to services. Unfortunately the very people who need culling are the very self same town hall taliban who are the so called decision makers. This state of affairs is both corrupt and needs sorting out. browbeaten

3:37am Sun 22 Dec 13

Magicman! says...

Stevie D wrote:
Rural pensioners have offered to pay towards their bus fares in a bid to save threatened services – only to be told Government policy makes this impossible.
That's nonsense ... and if they were given that advice from NYCC then it's proof that the county council is hell-bent on destroying public services regardless of the cost.

The law states that bus companies cannot demand or ask for a contribution to the fare from people using the concessionary pass. It does not state that pensioners can't pay to use the bus. If the community along one route gets together and a load of pensioners who use the bus regularly agree that one time in four, they pay a cash fare instead of swiping their passes, in order to help maintain the service, that is entirely legal and admirable.

Sure, if the full fare is £4 then pensioners might feel that they can only contribute £1 each journey. But they aren't allowed to make top-up payments. So instead pay the cash fare on a quarter of journeys. No, the bus company won't get quite as much money that way, but they will get more than if the pensioners don't pay cash fares at all. For the council not to have considered this option and discussed it with the passengers concerned is either inept or irresponsible, but either way tells the contempt that NYCC has for its rural bus users.
I was just about to write pretty much the exact same thing:- if a pensioner's bus fare to town is £4, they travel once a week, and can only afford a 'contribution' of just £1 then the simple answer is to "forget" to show the free bus pass on just 1 week out of every 4 - that way the £4 fare is then spread out over the 4 weeks and then equals a £1 contribution each week.

A lot of feedback over the ending of Moorsbus was that a great number of those with passes wanted to contribute if it would keep the service going, but that the bus drivers were legally forbidden from taking any money from a person who has used their free bus pass.

It's madness really, when you think about it. This is why some companies now try to reroute some of their services so that there is a section of more than 15 miles where the bus goes on-stop, because then according to the law if a bus does not serve any stops for 15 miles or more then every passenger on board has to pay a fare; hence the situation a few months ago when Coastliner wanted to cut out Goathland, Sleights, Aislaby, Ruswarp etc - and if a company like Coastliner, that normally has enough money to keep the average fleet age at the Malton depot down to 5 years or less by generally replacing buses after 6-8 years service, is having to revert to measures like this just to keep the service running, then you know there is a major problem in the pass system. The only way a Moorsbus service from York would likely be operated now is if it ran for 15 miles or more non-stop (I had suggested a route which called at Monks Cross then non-stop to Malton or Kirkbymoorside)
[quote][p][bold]Stevie D[/bold] wrote: [quote]Rural pensioners have offered to pay towards their bus fares in a bid to save threatened services – only to be told Government policy makes this impossible.[/quote]That's nonsense ... and if they were given that advice from NYCC then it's proof that the county council is hell-bent on destroying public services regardless of the cost. The law states that bus companies cannot demand or ask for a contribution to the fare from people using the concessionary pass. It does [bold]not[/bold] state that pensioners can't pay to use the bus. If the community along one route gets together and a load of pensioners who use the bus regularly agree that one time in four, they pay a cash fare instead of swiping their passes, in order to help maintain the service, that is entirely legal and admirable. Sure, if the full fare is £4 then pensioners might feel that they can only contribute £1 each journey. But they aren't allowed to make top-up payments. So instead pay the cash fare on a quarter of journeys. No, the bus company won't get [italic]quite[/italic] as much money that way, but they will get more than if the pensioners don't pay cash fares at all. For the council not to have considered this option and discussed it with the passengers concerned is either inept or irresponsible, but either way tells the contempt that NYCC has for its rural bus users.[/p][/quote]I was just about to write pretty much the exact same thing:- if a pensioner's bus fare to town is £4, they travel once a week, and can only afford a 'contribution' of just £1 then the simple answer is to "forget" to show the free bus pass on just 1 week out of every 4 - that way the £4 fare is then spread out over the 4 weeks and then equals a £1 contribution each week. A lot of feedback over the ending of Moorsbus was that a great number of those with passes wanted to contribute if it would keep the service going, but that the bus drivers were legally forbidden from taking any money from a person who has used their free bus pass. It's madness really, when you think about it. This is why some companies now try to reroute some of their services so that there is a section of more than 15 miles where the bus goes on-stop, because then according to the law if a bus does not serve any stops for 15 miles or more then every passenger on board has to pay a fare; hence the situation a few months ago when Coastliner wanted to cut out Goathland, Sleights, Aislaby, Ruswarp etc - and if a company like Coastliner, that normally has enough money to keep the average fleet age at the Malton depot down to 5 years or less by generally replacing buses after 6-8 years service, is having to revert to measures like this just to keep the service running, then you know there is a major problem in the pass system. The only way a Moorsbus service from York would likely be operated now is if it ran for 15 miles or more non-stop (I had suggested a route which called at Monks Cross then non-stop to Malton or Kirkbymoorside) Magicman!

8:38am Sun 22 Dec 13

Yorkie41 says...

So why where English Pensioners on the Rawcliffe Park and ride charged by First buses to travel into town recently.
So why where English Pensioners on the Rawcliffe Park and ride charged by First buses to travel into town recently. Yorkie41

9:52am Sun 22 Dec 13

King Joke says...

Park and Ride services are outside the DfT concessionary fare scheme, although some LAs have opted to fund their inclusion out of their own pot.
Park and Ride services are outside the DfT concessionary fare scheme, although some LAs have opted to fund their inclusion out of their own pot. King Joke

10:40am Sun 22 Dec 13

Yorkie41 says...

King Joke wrote:
Park and Ride services are outside the DfT concessionary fare scheme, although some LAs have opted to fund their inclusion out of their own pot.
So why are local passengers allowed to use their bus passes on these services.
[quote][p][bold]King Joke[/bold] wrote: Park and Ride services are outside the DfT concessionary fare scheme, although some LAs have opted to fund their inclusion out of their own pot.[/p][/quote]So why are local passengers allowed to use their bus passes on these services. Yorkie41

6:29pm Sun 22 Dec 13

Stevie D says...

If you get on a P&R bus at the P&R site, using a concessionary pass, you have to pay a nominal 70p charge, which covers the cost of the P&R infrastructure (ie car park, office, toilets). If you get on at any other stop along the route, you are not using the P&R infrastructure, so you are treated like you would be on any other service, ie your pass gives you a free ride.
If you get on a P&R bus at the P&R site, using a concessionary pass, you have to pay a nominal 70p charge, which covers the cost of the P&R infrastructure (ie car park, office, toilets). If you get on at any other stop along the route, you are not using the P&R infrastructure, so you are treated like you would be on any other service, ie your pass gives you a free ride. Stevie D

7:24pm Sun 22 Dec 13

Yorkie41 says...

Stevie D wrote:
If you get on a P&R bus at the P&R site, using a concessionary pass, you have to pay a nominal 70p charge, which covers the cost of the P&R infrastructure (ie car park, office, toilets). If you get on at any other stop along the route, you are not using the P&R infrastructure, so you are treated like you would be on any other service, ie your pass gives you a free ride.
Thank you for explaining it so well Stevie D
[quote][p][bold]Stevie D[/bold] wrote: If you get on a P&R bus at the P&R site, using a concessionary pass, you have to pay a nominal 70p charge, which covers the cost of the P&R infrastructure (ie car park, office, toilets). If you get on at any other stop along the route, you are not using the P&R infrastructure, so you are treated like you would be on any other service, ie your pass gives you a free ride.[/p][/quote]Thank you for explaining it so well Stevie D Yorkie41

12:28am Mon 23 Dec 13

North_circular says...

This is just the start, David Cameron has finally admitted that 'austerity' is the permanent plan. Multinational companies pay no tax whatsoever in a lot of cases, and this is the end result. Remember that at the ballot box.
This is just the start, David Cameron has finally admitted that 'austerity' is the permanent plan. Multinational companies pay no tax whatsoever in a lot of cases, and this is the end result. Remember that at the ballot box. North_circular

12:48am Mon 23 Dec 13

anistasia says...

Government could help the bus companies out more for supplying a public service the tax on the fuel and tax disc tax should be cheaper.then there would be no excuse for not providing a rural service.
Government could help the bus companies out more for supplying a public service the tax on the fuel and tax disc tax should be cheaper.then there would be no excuse for not providing a rural service. anistasia

10:32am Mon 23 Dec 13

Daisy75 says...

Whilst I think the bus service should continue and be subsidised, I would say that those pensioners not prepared to contribute more than £1 should consider how much the alternative will cost after the bus service ceases. I appreciate its not the main issue at hand, but it is a ludicrous policy that anyone over a certain age should get to travel on buses free, whatever their financial position. The end result of such a policy is that many bus services are economically unviable, and subsidised by councils, and are obviously lower priority in times of fiscal downturns than social services, elderly home care etc.
Whilst I think the bus service should continue and be subsidised, I would say that those pensioners not prepared to contribute more than £1 should consider how much the alternative will cost after the bus service ceases. I appreciate its not the main issue at hand, but it is a ludicrous policy that anyone over a certain age should get to travel on buses free, whatever their financial position. The end result of such a policy is that many bus services are economically unviable, and subsidised by councils, and are obviously lower priority in times of fiscal downturns than social services, elderly home care etc. Daisy75

8:04am Mon 30 Dec 13

King Joke says...

anistasia wrote:
Government could help the bus companies out more for supplying a public service the tax on the fuel and tax disc tax should be cheaper.then there would be no excuse for not providing a rural service.
This exists - it is called the Bus Service Operator's Grant, formerly the Fuel Duty Rebate. THe problem is it is being reduced every year and will be zero in a few years. Marginal services will become less and less viable in future I'm afraid.
[quote][p][bold]anistasia[/bold] wrote: Government could help the bus companies out more for supplying a public service the tax on the fuel and tax disc tax should be cheaper.then there would be no excuse for not providing a rural service.[/p][/quote]This exists - it is called the Bus Service Operator's Grant, formerly the Fuel Duty Rebate. THe problem is it is being reduced every year and will be zero in a few years. Marginal services will become less and less viable in future I'm afraid. King Joke

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