Bus (concessionary) passes - public consultation
The amount of funding that Dorset County Council receives from central government has been reduced significantly. This has had a big impact on the funding available for local bus services in the county.
Public transport budgets have been reduced by £1.5m between 2016 and 2018. Many public transport services in towns are commercially operated and won't be affected. Rural public transport services are likely to be affected the most.
To reduce the impact on our rural residents, we are looking to allow members of the public to use suitable school transport services. However, to facilitate the opening of these routes, we need to change Dorset's concessionary bus pass scheme.
The current bus pass scheme
The English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) sets out statutory concessionary travel provision across the country. It gives bus pass holders free travel between 9.30am and 11.00pm Monday to Friday and free travel all day on weekends and public holidays.
Dorset County Council currently enhance the ENCTS, allowing free travel before 9.30am on routes where there are no other services until after 10.30am.
Free all day travel is also available for blind and partially sighted pass holders. There is an additional companion scheme which allows people with certain disabilities to have a companion travel with them for free within Dorset. Concessionary pass holders from East Dorset are also granted free all-day travel when starting their journey in East Dorset. This is an enhancement funded by East Dorset District Council.
What is proposed?
Dorset County Council propose to stop free travel before 9.30am on routes where there are no other services until after 10.30am. The companion scheme, free travel before 9.30am for blind and partially sighted pass holders and additional concessions provided by East Dorset District Council will continue as they are now.
Why are we doing this?
There will be a small saving to public transport budgets but, more importantly, we are looking to maximise the number of suitable schools routes that are opened to the public. This will help to offset the expected reduction of rural public transport services.
Starting this summer, transport operators will have more freedom to develop their own school transport networks, deciding which routes to open to the public. Reimbursement rates for concessionary travel are much less than the price of fares. If transport operators have to accept concessionary passes before 9.30am this may affect how many routes are opened up.
Outcome of consultation
Dorset County Council held a public consultation on the above proposals which ran for 6 weeks between 1 December 2016 and 13 January 2017. The results of the consultation are given in the consultation response report:
- concessionary travel consultation response report (pdf, 1Mb) (opens in a new window)
- easy read version of the response report (pdf, 2Mb) (opens in a new window)
The proposals and consultation results were taken to Dorset County Council's Cabinet on 1 February 2017. Cabinet have agreed to end Dorset's enhancement of free concessionary travel before 9.30am. This change will be implemented on 24 July 2017, coinciding with Dorset's new contracts for passenger transport.
The minutes of this Cabinet meeting (opens in a new window) can be found here.