Free bus pass ‘a political ploy’?

I AM amazed that people are still ignorant of the structure of the concessionary bus pass set up.

The government set up the free bus pass as the usual political ploy to win votes, giving the impression that the whole cost would be met from central government.

Of course, as usual with these initiatives, the Local Authorities were lumbered with paying the bills and the cash from above is never enough so our council taxes make up the shortfall.

The amount paid has to be negotiated between the individual bus companies and the Local Authorities in whose area they operate, and of course is never the full cost of a single journey.

I’m sure Mr French would be delighted if he received the full fare for every concessionary ticket issued between Eastbourne and Brighton.

The official national time for the passes to be used is 9.30am but some councils have been generous enough to start them at 9am.

As expected, people have come to consider this a right, but once again it is the councils who pick up the tab.

There is no point, therefore, in having a driver ask the destination every time as it would only add more time to the journey.

When the scheme was introduced, almost all of the bus companies had to invest in extra vehicles and with the price of a new double decker with all the gizmos that are expected to be fitted today roughly the same as a house, but without the expected lifespan, and all the other infrastructure from fuel to servicing and maintenance and even to printing timetables twice a year and maintaining bus stops.

I would think it would be pretty obvious to anyone who pauses to think for a moment that it is a very expensive operation.

I doubt if there is a bus driver in the area who has not experienced the ‘twerlies’ trying to board before the correct time and often being quite abusive when refused.

It seems a bit bizarre expecting Norman Baker to be able to order councils to continue the nine o’clock privilege or to make it a national obligation and in the next breath acknowledging that we are in a time of restraint.

There are a considerable number of people around who think it would not be unreasonable for concessionary pass holders to pay half fares.

I am a pass holder myself and am grateful for what I have.

Garth Porrell