New concessionary deal for Scotland

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The CPT said it appreciated the Scottish Government’s transitional aid but said the cut would be difficult for the industry to absorb
The CPT said it appreciated the Scottish Government’s transitional aid but said the cut would be difficult for the industry to absorb

The concession rate to be reduced from 67% to 60% of adult fare, with a further reduction to 58% to follow

Transport Scotland and the bus industry have signed up to new fare reimbursement arrangements which include a phased reduction in the reimbursement rate over the next two years.

The new deal, brokered in part by CPT Scotland, ensures bus firms receive all of this year’s budget and a further £10m. Arrangements have been made to help them with the reduction in the reimbursement rate.

Currently, the concession rate is 67% of an adult fare. This will be reduced to 60% in 2013/14 and then 58.1% in 2014/15.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “Concessionary travel is a key part of the Scottish Government’s social wage and makes a real difference to many of our elderly and disabled. Our track record in funding bus travel speaks for itself. We are continuing to provide £250m annually to the industry, investing not just in concessionary travel but support for services and new green buses.

“The changes to the reimbursement arrangements are based on hard evidence and we have worked with the industry to provide them with some much-needed stability going forward. But the needs of the passenger must come first and we are encouraging operators to continue to work with us to deliver services for passengers at affordable prices.”

Paul White, Communications Manager for CPT Scotland, told CBW: “CPT Scotland has engaged with Transport Scotland heavily in recent months in an attempt to ensure that the National Concessionary Travel Scheme remains sustainable and that bus operators are reimbursed at a fair and proper level.

“One outcome of this work is a model which will be used to forecast reimbursement levels in future years. If the government commits to setting its budgets for the scheme at the levels indicated by this model we should avoid the large discrepancies between the scheme’s costs and its capped budgets which have sorely disadvantaged the industry in recent years.

“We appreciate the Scottish Government is set to provide a degree of transitional aid to soften what is a significant reduction in the reimbursement rate resulting from this review of the scheme. However, it should be acknowledged that this cut in reimbursement, taken alongside other financial pressures, will be difficult for the industry to absorb. Hopefully this work will at least allow a degree of budget certainty for all parties and enable the Scotland’s bus operators to concentrate on the business of carrying passengers and growing services.”