High Court judgement that has implications

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The Green Bus offers a premium home to school transport service
The Green Bus offers a premium home to school transport service

The Green Bus Company considers its position after judgement

Birmingham-based The Green Bus Company has lost its High Court bid to have a financial restriction imposed by Centro lifted that limits the amount of subsidy it receives to run its registered school services.

Justice Ouseley refused to lift the cap set at £320 per pupil in May.

The Green Bus Managing Director Ian Mack told CBW judgement could have serious implications for the industry as it seemed to exclude school bus services anywhere in the UK from concessionary fares schemes. It also brought into question their eligibility for BSOG.

From its inception, The Green Bus Company has been reimbursed by Centro – the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority and the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive – under the statutory concessionary fares scheme for child passengers, a point made by the Birmingham Mail in its reporting of the judgement.

Centro announced its intention to limit the amount it paid at the end if 2011. The transport authority imposed the cap after comparing the cost of The Green Bus Company’s annual passes with those offered by other bus operators.

The Green Bus Company’s lawyers said that, under the Transport Act 1985 and the Travel Concession Schemes Regulations 1986, the company was entitled to be reimbursed for the concessions it offers to children.

They argued Centro’s analysis was ‘flawed’.

In dismissing the firm’s claim, the judge said Centro had made no error of fact when reaching its decision.

“The approach it had adopted and explained was one reasonably open to it; indeed it had gone to some lengths to adopt a method, which was weighted at least fairly, and probably favourably, to The Green Bus Company.”

He said it would be open to Centro lawfully to conclude that the company’s services were ‘not eligible’ for its concessionary travel scheme, because they were used almost exclusively by school children, as they operated on routes and at times suitable for them but not other regular passengers.

Ian Mack added that it was time to study the judgement in detail. If appropriate there would be an appeal although at this stage it was too early to say if that would happen.

Asked for comment, Centro Spokesman Peter Cameron explained: “We note the court’s judgement and that under court rules The Green Bus Company now has 21 days in which to appeal if it so wishes. Due to the fact that an appeal could be lodged it is not appropriate to comment any further at this stage.”