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_11_ National Concessionary Bus Travel

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					                                                                           AGENDA ITEM NO: 11

                               BOSTON BOROUGH COUNCIL


                                   REPORT TO CABINET
                                         25 JUNE 2008

SUBJECT:                         NATIONAL CONCESSIONARY BUS TRAVEL

PORTFOLIO HOLDER:                COUNCILLOR LENTON – FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
                                 AND RURAL COMMUNITIES

REPORT BY:                       ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (FINANCIAL SERVICES)




Reason For Report:
To report to Members the proposal to amend the hours of the National Concessionary bus travel
scheme which was implemented on 1 April 2008 to an all day scheme.


Recommendations:
That members support the proposal that is to be put to Full Council on 26 June whereby the hours of
the national concessionary bus travel scheme be amended from 9-30 am to 11pm to all day free travel
with effect from 1 July 2008.


Reasons for Recommendations:
In response to lobbying from the Public, Bus Operators and other Authorities within the Lincolnshire
scheme.


Alternative Options:
Retain the statutory minimum scheme hours of 9.30am to 11pm Monday to Friday and all day at
weekends and on bank holidays (excluding carers), and not introduce all day free travel.




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Implications:
Where the implications of any of the below mentioned matters are discussed in the report the
relevant paragraph number of the report is shown

Personnel ........................... …………………     N/A
Environmental.................... …………………         N/A
Community Safety and Cohesion………….                N/A


1       Introduction
1.1     From 1 April 2008 the national (England only) concessionary bus travel scheme came into
        operation. This new scheme allowed a resident, who meet the eligibility criteria of aged 60 and
        over or disabled people (as defined in section 146 of the Transport Act 2000) to apply for a bus
        pass card which would entitle them to free unrestricted local travel in England in accordance
        with the Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007.

1.2     In accordance with this new national scheme, from April 2008 reimbursements to bus operators
        by local authorities are linked to where the trip starts. Council are therefore required to
        reimburse operators for all trips starting in their area that are covered by the statutory minimum
        concession regardless of where the pass holder resides. This new concession will necessarily
        impose a greater funding burden on travel authorities because they will be obliged to reimburse
        operators for more journeys. Extra journeys are likely to stem from increased pass take-up and
        increased use of buses by concessionaires to cross local authority boundaries.

1.3     The national scheme was adopted by Full Council on 12 November 2007. This was based on
        the statutory minimum requirement, which allowed travel by a pass holder between the hours of
        9.30am to 11pm Monday to Friday and all day at weekends and on bank holidays (excluding
        carers). The reason for the introduction of the statutory minimum scheme, was that at the time
        the decision was taken;

           the Authority was unclear on its position regarding the Appeals in relation to the 2007/08
            Local scheme,
           Operators where threatening withdrawal of services
           The financial impact of the change to the National scheme, was not clear,
           BBC were in the middle of the zero based budgeting exercise, and were not able to
            balance the budget readily, so it was hard to justify providing a service above the statutory
            minimum.

1.4     The final Concessionary travel scheme for 2008/09 was published to Bus Operators (in
        accordance with S.95(1) of the Transport Act 1985 and S.150(1) of the Transport Act 2000) on
        3 March 2008. If Operators consider themselves to be prejudicially affected by the published
        arrangements they may apply to the Secretary of State for Transport for their modification. To
        date, notices of appeal have been received from Delaines, Brylaine, Norfolk Green and
        Stagecoach.
1.5     Several meetings have been held with Bus Operators to reach an agreement over the
        published scheme in order to mitigate against operators withdrawing some services/ routes,
        and to persuade them not to Appeal/withdraw their Appeals for the 2008/09 scheme. The


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        meetings also addressed some anomalies that arose in the reimbursement formula due to the
        introduction of the Government Reimbursement Analysis Tool (RAT). As a result of these
        meetings, a proposed way forward has been agreed in part. The issue of all day travel was
        also raised as causing concern for Customers, Members and Operators, and it was considered
        that this aspect of the scheme should be reviewed.


2       Current Position

2.1     Since the introduction of the national scheme on 1 April 2008, there has been increasing
        pressure from the Public and some Bus Operators to reintroduce all day travel.

2.2     The Lincolnshire Chief Executives and Leaders discussed the Lincolnshire Concessionary
        Travel scheme at its meeting of 15 May 2008. The principle of the introduction of all day travel
        was agreed by all authorities excluding SKDC and WLDC. Following a further meeting of this
        group on 28 May 2008, WLDC have now confirmed their support of the principle of all day
        travel, with SKDC** being the only Lincolnshire Authority to decline their support.

        ** SKDC are new members to the Lincolnshire scheme for 2008/09, having previously worked
        and administered their scheme individually. SKDC has stated that whilst it is committed to the
        partnership it has genuine concerns regarding its actual costs of the 2008/09 scheme. This is
        based on the fact that the previous year scheme for SKDC was district only with free cross
        border travel prohibited. In addition to this SKDC has seen a 98% increase in the take up of
        bus passes following the withdrawal of their local voucher scheme.

2.3     The basis for the change of direction for the majority of Lincolnshire Authorities was that;

2.3.1   Appeals outcomes now known for 2007/08 scheme, this evidenced that the Lincolnshire
        scheme was an effective scheme which provided value for money.

2.3.2   Increasing public pressure to re-introduce an all day scheme.

2.3.3   Possibility of additional capacity claims. Operators are about to start making service changes
        due to the impact of the national statutory minimum scheme (bus timetables for previous local
        scheme are currently still in place). If a decision is taken to reintroduce all day travel
        immediately, Operators have agreed to halt any amendments to current service routes, hence
        negating the need for additional capacity claims. If the decision was taken not to introduce all
        day travel as soon as possible, then additional capacity claims would likely be forthcoming if all
        day travel was introduced at a later date, which would have related costs for each authority.

2.4     The conclusions of the Chief Executives and Leaders at their meeting of 28 May 2008 were;

2.4.1   The all day scheme should be introduced from 1 July 2008 (in order to give sufficient time for
        the proposal to go through District Executive processes) by the following members of the
        Lincolnshire Partnership; ELDC, WLDC, NKDC, BBC, SHDC and Lincoln.

2.4.2   SKDC will remain within the Lincolnshire partnership, but will continue to provide the statutory
        minimum scheme hours of 9.30am to 11pm Monday to Friday and all day at weekends and on
        bank holidays.



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2.4.3   ELDC will continue to administer the two schemes on behalf of the Partnership, with any
        additional costs due to the fragmentation of the Partnership, being picked up by SKDC.

2.4.4   ELDC on behalf of the Partnership will take the proposals to the bus operators for negotiation
        and agreement.

2.4.5   A joint press release to be produced by ELDC in liaison with other District press officers, with
        Chief Executives and Leaders group to approve contents of this, before it is released to the
        public.


3       Financial Implications
3.1     The estimated full year additional cost of all day travel for Boston Borough Council in 2008/09 is
        £7,830 (estimates provided by our Transport consultants MCL). For 2008/09, this increase can
        be funded from existing resources within the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP). This
        additional cost excludes any costs relating to the new Town Centre Bus service which is due to
        commence in June/ early July 2008 (a separate sum of £110,000 has currently been budgeted
        to fund the full year cost of Concessionary Travel in relation to this route). It should be noted
        that the estimates of costs for the national scheme are based on a ‘reasonable assessment’ of
        assumptions for take up, impact of ‘journey start pays’, travel patterns etc. which must be
        heavily caveated. In reality no one really knows what the financial position will be until some
        base data has been established which for a true picture will be after the first year of operation.

3.2     Additional funding for the new national scheme has been put in place by the Government for a
        three year period via an annual non-ringfenced special grant. After this period, it is anticipated
        that the additional funding would be transferred into the formula grant process, thus from April
        2011 all concessionary travel funding from Government will be made via Formula grant. BBC
        has received £188,000 of grant in 2008/09, and is expected to receive £192,700 in 2009/10 and
        £197,520 in 2010/11.

3.3     For 2008/09 to show their support for the reintroduction of all day travel in Lincolnshire, the
        County Council have informally offered to fund £15,000 of the additional costs of the scheme.

3.4     At its meeting on 15 May 2008, the Leaders and Chief Executives also agreed to the principle
        of ‘damping’. If an authority (or authorities) has a financial difficulty due to the impact of any
        changes to the scheme (eg additional capacity claims, actuals materially different to estimates
        etc) the other authorities would, within existing budget provisions, try to ‘minimise the impact’
        on that Authority. This is referred to as ‘damping’ and was carried out during 2007/08, where
        ELDC (£19K), BBC (£17K) and SHDC (£23K) benefited from its application.


4       Legal and Policy Implications
4.1     The introduction of the national bus travel scheme is a mandatory requirement in accordance
        with the Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007. It would be a discretionary decision to fund all
        day travel, as the requirement is only to fund between the hours of 9.30am to 11pm Monday to
        Friday and all day at weekends and on bank holidays (excluding carers).




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5       Risk Management Implications
5.1     The introduction of all day bus travel is a public relations issue for the majority of the
        Lincolnshire Authorities.

5.2     It will add to the existing financial burden of the overall scheme, but for BBC based on the
        estimates provided the cost of this is not significant, and for 2008/09 can be contained within
        the original estimates included in the MTFP.

5.3     There could be a risk, that the estimates prepared (by MCL our Transport consultants) are not
        accurate as travel patterns and usage are not known for the new national scheme, and in
        addition the shift in the calculation method based on ‘journey start’.



Consultations
CMB
Monitoring Officer
Interim Director of Resources
Accounting Services Manager


Reference: Cabinet/25.6.08 /National Concessionary Bus Travel/JP

No background papers under Section 100D of the Local Government Act, 1972 were used in the
preparation of this report.




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