Post by Recliner Post by Graham Harrison
I live in Somerset and hold a concessionary bus pass (a "twirly pass"
as some have it). When I visit London I sometimes buy a combined
paper/orange train ticket/Travelcard. On other occasions I will use my
With the Travelcard it can go through the gates but when I board a bus
I just show the driver the orange ticket. My bus pass works on readers
outside London but in London I'm back to simply showing my pass. The
driver seems to push a button when I show either pass.
All that set me wondering. He might have a "paper travelcard" button
but I find the idea that he has a "Somerset bus pass" button difficult
to believe if only because I doubt he has time to read "Somerset" on
the pass. How do TfL get paid for my use of TfL services when I'm
using either a paper travelcard or my bus pass? For that matter do
they get paid?
While I'm asking, one of my most frequent uses of my bus pass is in
and around Salisbury which, of course, is in Wiltshire. How do
Wiltshire get paid (do they get paid)?
As I understand it, the bus company gets reimbursed (using a complicated
formula) by the local 'travel concession authorities’ (TCAs). In England
these are county, unitary and metropolitan authorities and the 33 London
councils, which collectively get a government formula grant talking about
£1bn. However, some TCAs make a loss and some a profit on this.
There's very little data there, other than the obvious "winners and
Post by Recliner
In any case, your local TCA doesn't get billed for your use elsewhere in
England, and the bus company just needs to count the total number of
concessionary fares, not who issued the bus passes.
If you read the official reports on the scheme, they are always
couched in terms of "boardings", not least because that's the only data
that's collected (people don't have to "touch-out").
Which is consistent with my recollection that the money which is sent to
the bus company comes from the local authority in whose territory the
[single, not return] trip begins.
The idea was that people in Derby would be just as likely to go shopping
in Nottingham as people from Nottingham were in Derby, so the formers'
trip home being paid for by Nottingham would be balanced out by the
latters' trip home being paid for by Derby.
The unfairness complained about largely derives from "tourist
destinations" where they are lumbered with paying the fares back home
for a wide range of out-of-area day-trippers, whereas their own
residents have no reason to do a day-trip to the non-touristy areas from
which those others travel.
ps One of the main objectives of the scheme, which was to create a
modal-shift for retirees from car to bus has failed to be delivered. As
perhaps a realist might expect, the pass has mainly been used by
car-less people to avoid paying fares on the buses they were already
using, and take-up is massively skewed towards people who happen to
already live close to good bus services.
 such as: