31 August 2011: The 50% coach concession for elderly and disabled passengers is the latest victim of government cuts to public transport. The decision could tip a number of coach routes into decline and closure, especially in rural and disadvantaged areas.
We have written to 124 MPs who have coach routes going through their constituency that could be reviewed because the concession has been withdrawn. National Express alone runs 18 routes where between 32% and 51% of passengers use the concession. Coaches are not part of the statutory bus pass arrangement, but the Government funded this additional scheme to support coach travel for older and disabled passengers.
When difficult decisions have to be made at the very least the Government should conduct a full assessment of the impacts, including consulting with the disabled and older people affected as well as coach operators. In this case the impact assessment is a hollow tick box exercise and no public consultation was held. Communication and cooperation is key when trying to make sure that the public is cushioned as far as possible from cuts, but National Express, by far the biggest coach operator, say they have been disappointed by the silence from the Department for Transport.
If this decision goes ahead, from November the 1st many coach passengers will find that they are no longer eligible for the scheme. This would be a major loss for hundreds of thousands of people who would otherwise face sometimes very serious challenges to mobility and self-sufficiency.