Half of bus users travelling for free

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Councillor Challen makes further points (Letters June 4) following my last letter which you kindly published about the Concessionary Travel Scheme.

Costs have increased as a result of the National Scheme which started in 2008, mainly due to the need for bigger buses on some routes and higher fuel consumption due to the heavier buses, bigger passenger loads and more time at bus stops.

But that is not the real issue and Councillor Challen may have missed this point in my earlier letter – the big problem is reduced income, not higher costs.

Prior to 2003 in Scarborough (it was earlier in some other places) every adult paid the full fare – there was no concessionary travel scheme. Now we are paid on average only about half of the adult fare for every concessionary passholder we carry so it should be easy to see how substantially our income has been cut.

True, more older people do travel now that their journey is free, but the increase nowhere near offsets the lower individual payments. We would need to carry twice as many pensioners to break even and the increase is far less than that.

In Scarborough about half our passengers travel free under this scheme so it is a very substantial part of our business for which we receive only half the normal fare.

Councillor Challen describes as ‘scandalous’ the invitation to pensioners to pay instead of using their passes but many passholders all over the country say they would rather pay something than lose their lifeline bus service.

In Hull we planned to cancel our route 48 (we don’t have a route 100 quoted by Councillor Challen) as its losses had escalated due to fuel costs and the big cut in the concessionary payments from April, but so many users pleaded with us to keep the route as they would rather pay that we agreed this on a trial basis to see what happens.

I am sorry if this gesture is seen by some as scandalous but I suspect the pensioners who proposed the idea and who now still have their service at least for the time being would not agree.

Arriva are trying something different but for exactly the same reasons – they ask for a £2 supplement on the single fare on their evening route 100 between Robin Hoods Bay, Whitby and Sleights. I understand the supplement is compulsory for farepayers but voluntary for passholders.

The whole situation is very complex and I would be happy to meet Councillor Challen so that we could discuss it in greater detail.

Peter Shipp

Chairman and chief executive

EYMS Group Ltd