Bus Services after the Spending Review - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from R Drever (BUS 56)

I only very recently found out about this enquiry. So sorry I am responding one month late. Hopefully, the brief nature of my comments will allow you to at least give them a little consideration.

I write as a disabled, non-driving bus user.

1.    What is the point of providing free bus passes if there are going to be no buses to use them on.

2.    Bus-use "fees" should be made up of two elements:

—  2.1  A "service membership" style fee which a user has to purchase in advance—on a monthly/quarterly/annual basis. If a user does not possess this permit then they would have to pay a premium fare.

—  2.2  A usage or travel fare which is paid according to how far the journey is. This is paid in addition to the "membership" charge mentioned above.

—  2.3  As an alternative to the above two-element fare, it should be possible to purchase a "roaming" pass for unlimited weekly or monthly use.

3.    The principle behind the above fare system that the users don't just pay for service usage, but also have to pay something towards the existence of the service. It is quite unsatisfactory for a would-be traveller to say they only need the bus once a week or month and expect the service to be there for their rare benefit. There has to be a fare element that helps assure the existence of the service.

4.    In terms of the free passes for the 60s+ and the disabled, only one or the other of 2.1 or 2.2 above should be provided free. They should pay for the other one.

5.    I don't know what percentage of the cost of providing the free bus pass goes towards covering its national benefit, but this has to feature in the cost somewhere. I believe this is the most stupid and wasteful part of the facility. It is one thing to provide a pass for going about my daily living needs, but there is no justification for providing free national, ie holiday, travel.

6.    Still on the subject of the free passes, why should the disabled be getting a free pass anyway when they most likely get Mobility Allowance thru Disability Living Allowance.

7.    Much as I like having my evening bus service (which I probably use once a month), it is doing the planet no good having two tons of bus driving around with none, one, or maybe two passengers on it. At the end of the day, if people want to travel at "unusual" times they will just have to walk, cycle, or take a taxi. My father and grandfather walked five miles each way to get to their work. If they coped, why can't the people of today?

8.    More thought should be given to use of mobile phones in time-tabling of bus services outside peak times. Instead of buses running at fixed times outside peak times, the service providers should commit to run a minimum of say one, two or three buses at a time to be determined by service requests from customers. Customers will have to rely on their phone to find out when the bus is scheduled to run.

9.    Looking at my own bus area (Guildford in Surrey) I would say there is good scope for realistic rejigging of some routes during off-peak times, eg where there are clockwise and anti-clockwise services running on the same route. I am sure there will be other ways in which routes can be fine tuned to reduce cost but still keep a service running.

10.  It has long been an argument of mine that it is the punctuality and reliability of a service that really matters, not the theoretical frequency. People should be able to plan their affairs round a reliable timetable rather than expect buses to turn up at a time most convenient for them.

January 2011

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 11 August 2011