Monday, 26 July 2010

Free bus travel - how does WAG monitor bus companies?

The Western Mail reports that "the cost of Wales’ free bus travel scheme for older people has increased so rapidly that there is no money left over to help teenagers travel to training or jobs."

It goes on:

"Assembly Government payments to bus operators for free carriage of over-60s have more than doubled in six years to £66m – while passenger journeys on buses increased by just 7.8%.

"New figures also indicate that from 2007-08 to 2008-09, there was no increase in passenger journeys in Wales, but WAG paid 15.8% more to bus firms under the free travel scheme."

That would suggest that pensioners are replacing regular paying travellers. Is that really the case?

One obvious question that needs to be posed is to what extent individual bus companies are monitored on their claims to WAG. It would be unfair to blame all companies but the number of free bus travellers is down to each individual bus driver. How can WAG be certain how accurate these figures are?

The need for more public transport throughout Wales has never been greater with the cost of fuel, low wages and unemployment making private car travel prohibitive for many.


Plaid Gwersyllt said...

I think the system would be quite easy to fiddle. In my experience travel by public transport has increased in Wrecsam for all ages not just those entitled to free bus passes, so there is something going on.

Anonymous said...

All a bus driver has to do is press a button - how can you check whether he presses it 10 times or 20 times en route?

Anonymous said...

actually these days the passes are smart cards which are recorded by the machine with time of travel and boarding point. Undoubtedly there was fiddling by some companies in the past but it is now impossible. It would be interesting to see a comparison on certain routes of the pass holders carried when the company provided the figures and presentusage.