Visitors’ freebie costing Devon �1 million a year

More people are using their bus passes while visiting the county.

More than �1 million of the funding Devon receives for the national concessionary bus pass is spent on visitors to the county - according to a survey, commissioned by the county council.

Twenty-one per cent of those using concessionary passes in the county did not live in Devon.

The survey, which was carried out in September, revealed that two per cent were from Torbay, one per cent were Plymouth residents and 18 per cent were from further afield.

The proportion of non-residents using free bus travel in Devon is growing year on year and compares with 16 per cent in September 2009 and nine per cent in September 2007.

As the survey was carried out during the tourism season, across the whole year it’s estimated that annually non-residents account for around 10 per cent of passengers using concessionary passes.

This accounts for just over �1million of the �12 million cost of the scheme to Devon County Council.

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However, Devon was only handed �7 million of Government funding to operate the scheme since responsibility for concessionary bus travel was passed from District Councils to the County Council.

The Association of Transport Co-ordinating Officers (ATCO), which represents local authority transport officers across the UK, has found that Devon has suffered the second biggest shortfall of any local authority in the country, with a deficit of around �4.6 million. Only Lancashire has a higher shortfall at �6.8 million.