Consultation on Changes to the Concessionary Fares Scheme for Access Pass Holders

Closed 20 Jul 2018

Opened 24 May 2018

Overview

Like all local authorities, Reading Borough Council faces significant financial pressures with reduced funding from central government and increasing demand on its services. These pressures are predicted to increase in the future. The Council therefore needs to make savings to ensure it is able to continue to provide the services it is required by law to deliver to its residents.

To help us make informed decisions, the Council’s Policy Committee agreed in February 2018 to consult on possible changes to the Concessionary Fares bus pass scheme in Reading. 

Why We Are Consulting

Since 2001 a mandatory national bus concession for older and disabled people in England has been in place providing free travel on local bus services. Over the years the scheme has gradually been extended and from April 2008 the England National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) provided free off-peak local bus travel anywhere in England to eligible older and disabled people from 9.30am to 11:00pm on any weekday and at any time on weekends and bank holidays.

In addition to the national scheme, Travel Concession Authorities, which includes Reading Borough Council, are able to offer concessionary travel outside the hours of the ENCTS national scheme on a discretionary basis. This has enabled Reading Borough Council to provide a more generous scheme with additional discretionary elements including free travel within Reading from 9:00am for older people and anytime for disabled (Access) pass holders; providing companion bus passes for eligible Access pass holders; and free travel for eligible Access pass holders on ReadiBus dial-a-ride services.

Following a consultation undertaken in summer 2016 the Council introduced changes to its discretionary scheme from April 2017, affecting pass holders who hold the Older Person’s Pass. These changes were to revert the criteria for Older Person’s Pass holders back to the statutory scheme rules where passes can only be used from 9:30am to 11:00pm Mondays to Fridays and at any time on weekends and bank holidays.

What is the current provision in Reading?


Reading Borough Council currently provides the following discretionary elements in addition to the ENCTS national scheme:

  • Free travel at any time on weekdays within Reading borough for disabled (Access) pass holders.
  • Issuing a companion entitlement to eligible disabled (Access Plus Companion) pass holders who are unable to travel alone. This provides free travel for a companion when travelling with them at any time within Reading.
  • Free travel on ReadiBus dial-a-ride services for Access pass holders who meet ReadiBus eligibility criteria (dial-a-ride services are not included in the national scheme).

What are the proposed changes?


The Council is consulting on the proposal to remove all of the discretionary elements for Access pass holders and revert to the national scheme, which would mean Reading Borough Council would:

  • No longer provide free travel within Reading before 9:30am or after 11:00pm on a weekday.
  • No longer issue or accept companion bus passes.
  • No longer provide free travel on ReadiBus dial-a-ride services.


This would bring the Reading Borough Council scheme for Access pass holders in line with the current Older Person’s pass holders and the ENCTS national scheme.

Paper copies of the questionnaire will be made available on request by email to transport@reading.gov.uk with ‘Concessionary Fares Consultation’ in the subject header or by calling Transport Planning on 0118 937 2451. Large print versions of the questionnaire and covering letter are also available on request.

What Happens Next

We will take full account of all the feedback received through this consultation before any recommendations are made to the Council’s Policy Committee. Any changes the Council decides to make would not come into effect until 1st April 2019.

We would like to emphasise that no decisions have been made at this stage and we will consider all responses and representations to the consultation, assessing these against the Council’s financial situation.

Areas

  • All Areas