Bus pass costs mean ‘double whammy’ for Devon
PUBLISHED: 12:23 11 February 2011 | UPDATED: 12:49 11 February 2011
Government urged to plug £5million funding gap as county council takes over concessionary bus travel scheme
DEVON’S transport spokesman Stuart Hughes is today urging the government to plug a £5 million funding gap caused by the concessionary bus travel scheme.
He is meeting with Transport Minister Norman Baker to discuss the shortfall and its knock on effects, which Devon says is putting additional pressure on its already stretched budget.
They will also be discussing the £1.35 million Devon County Council is proposing to cut from its £7.76million public transport budget in response to reduced government funding.
Due to changes in the legislation, district councils’ responsibility for the pass ends on March 31, with the county council taking over direct responsibility for concessionary bus travel within its area.
Devon has been given £7million of Government funding to operate the scheme, but it is expected to cost them around £12.35million to run.
Councillor Hughes said: “It’s disappointing that we have effectively been short-changed, and by being handed the concessionary travel scheme, we’re facing a double whammy.
“The shortfall in funding we’re receiving for the concessionary bus pass has piled extra pressure on our services, and that is on top of the cuts that we have to make as a result of reduced Government funding.
“Our local concessionary scheme was being run very efficiently. The County Council was already managing the administration of the concessionary bus passes in the county, other than in East Devon, so there has been virtually no opportunity to save costs by transferring the scheme to the County Council.
“In our proposed cuts to public transport, we have tried to avoid just cutting the most expensive rural routes to try to ensure that communities are not cut off from their last remaining services – but thinning out, rather than cutting, services, will still inconvenience many passengers. We therefore need a fair deal.”
Residents who already have a national bus pass do not need to register with Devon County Council unless their circumstances have changed, because all national bus passes remain valid and their information will automatically transfer from the district councils. All new applicants should contact the Concessionary Bus Travel team who will also provide information about how and when the concession will operate. This includes East Devon residents who previously contacted East Devon District Council.Call them on 01392 383688 or 01271 383688.
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