London Councils’ Executive
Options for the future of Door to Door Item no: 5
services in London
Report by: Ron Beckett Job title: Head of Transport & Mobility
Date: 3 November 2008
Contact Officer: Ron Beckett
Telephone: 020 7934 9760 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Summary The purpose of this report is to explain why door to door services need to
change in London, and to offer members 3 options that boroughs may
wish to consider as proposals to TfL regarding the future of door to door
services in London.
Recommendations That members:-
1) Consider the 3 options regarding the future of door to door services in
London, and decide whether all 3 or a single option should be proposed
Options for the future of Door to Door services in London
Current door to door provision
1. Door to door services in London are currently managed and run separately by a
number of organisations. Apart from some cross funding, there is little or no co-
ordination between the services. Some services are statutory and some are non-
statutory: The statutory providers are:
Borough Transport – Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Social Services
Transport (SST). The Budget for SEN in 2007/8 was around £103m. The cost
of SST is also around £100m. These services fulfil important social and
educational functions. The vehicles are often not used during the middle of day
and some may be available for an integrated scheme.
Patient Transport Services (PTS) – Trips to and from hospitals for those who
have difficulty using public transport and who meet the eligibility criteria. It is
difficult to be precise about the cost as there are many different local contracts,
but it is estimated to be in the region of about £30m a year. These services
offer generally lower quality services with frequently inconsistent eligibility. As
a result travellers to hospitals frequently use Taxicard services, even though
this is strictly not permitted. The estimated cross subsidy from the Taxicard
scheme to the NHS as a result is estimated to be about £2m a year.
Non Statutory Services are primarily used for social trips and the budgets are far
Taxicard - a borough based service providing social trips in licensed taxis and
private hire vehicles for over 80,000 mobility and severely visually impaired
people, procured jointly through London Councils. Budget in 2008/09 is £18.7m
(5.96m from boroughs / £12.7m from TfL).
Dial a Ride – a TfL funded scheme providing social trips mainly in minibuses for
80,000+ mobility and severely visually impaired people. Budget is believed to
be approx. £26m. Although Dial-a-Ride uses minibuses and MPVs, rather than
taxis, the subsidy per trip is higher than with Taxicard and there are concerns
about service quality from users.
Community Transport (CT) – A variety of schemes that offer door to door
transport to community sector groups and individuals, mainly through
minibuses, enabling local people to participate in various activities, interest
and/or social travel needs. Budget is approx. £8m, funded by a mixture of
boroughs, group travel and individuals.
Why change is needed in door to door provision in London
2. Prior to the election of the first London Mayor, Taxicard was an entirely borough-
funded scheme, with different levels of service from borough to borough. Three
boroughs had no service at all. The then Mayor, Ken Livingstone, was willing to top
up borough funding to create common minimum agreed standards for the service
across London, covering automatic eligibility criteria, customer charges and trip
limits. Boroughs would also not be permitted to require applicants to choose between
the Taxicard, freedom pass or Blue Badge schemes, maintain waiting lists or charge
for membership. Initially, in 2001, he made £5 million a year available. This more
attractive service led to a rapid increase in take-up from eligible Londoners, with
usage increasing by an average of 18% a year since then. The agreement ALG TEC
(now London Councils) reached with TfL left with them the financial risk arising from
this growth, so that now their contribution is approaching £13 million p.a., while most
borough contributions have been broadly static, apart from inflation increases in the
past few years.
3. TfL have now made clear that they find this financially unsustainable. They intend to
cap their contribution at current levels so as to control their risk. This means that
London boroughs have no choice but to consider whether they wish to maintain a
common London standard or revert to schemes that vary from authority to authority.
However, it is also an opportunity for boroughs to consider the wider range of
accessible transport services they offer, and those offered by the NHS and
Community Transport, with a view to possibly closer integration; and to consider the
future of Dial-a-Ride, a service funded and managed exclusively by TfL that they
may be willing to transfer to the boroughs.
4. Recent discussions with TfL have shown that there has been a shift in emphasis in
TfL’s thinking on door to door with the arrival of a new Mayor, and that they are more
willing to consider a wider range of options for the governance and scope of
integrated services. TfL are also of the view that they can revisit their role as a
provider of door to door services, because of the increased accessibility of its bus
network. At the same time, the scope for efficiencies and quality improvements by
combining services (both statutory and non-statutory) exists.
Areas for consideration in the future provision of Door to Door services
5. Boroughs must give serious consideration to a series of possible alternative
scenarios and this will allow boroughs to make a serious proposal to TfL regarding
the future of door to door services, particularly those which are discretionary, but with
due regard to the impact a reduction in service would have on members of the door
to door schemes.
6. Do boroughs wish to continue to support a pan-London single standard for Taxicard,
given the differences in the make up of supply and demand? This can even be
different within a single borough, let alone across London. However, boroughs
should equally be concerned about the views of disability groups should there be a
decision to revert to variable schemes. In particular, boroughs may wish to consider
there may be an opportunity to broaden the scope of door to door by aligning supply
with statutory services (SEN /SST/PTS) and also Community Transport.
7. There are also difficult decisions to be made in relation to Dial a Ride. Dial a Ride is
currently a bus-based door to door service provided by TfL. Although it has some
success, it remains a service that is high cost and suffers from a poor reputation. A
comparison of the average cost per trip last year showed that at £10.53 a Taxicard
trip was provided at half the cost of a Dial a Ride trip (£21.67).
8. In terms of funding, boroughs need to consider their future budgets in the light of
TfL’s view that they will cap funding and how mechanisms will be deployed to
constrain growth if any increase in projected costs cannot be met. TfL may wish to
continue to fund door to door, and they have indicated that London Councils should
make a proposal on the future of door to door that they will consider in the light of
their budget concerns:
9. Members may wish, therefore, to consider whether they wish to propose the
following 3 possible options for a revised door to door service or any combination of
Option 1 –London Councils manages the Door to Door budget against a Service
Level Agreement (SLA) with TfL
TfL would continue to fund door to door at their current level, but the combined budgets
for Taxicard and Dial a Ride would be passed to London Councils to manage on the
basis of a Service Level Agreement (SLA). London Councils, in conjunction with TfL and
the boroughs, would then manage the budgets and services to comply within the
constraints of the SLA. Boroughs would be expected to maintain current budgets and
increase them annually by the Public Carriage Office inflation rate. Given that the
budget is capped, London Councils will be incentivised to determine the best method of
service delivery to reduce costs.
Option 2 –Boroughs manage an integrated Taxicard and Dial a Ride service
Boroughs would take over Dial a Ride on a similar funding level, but as part of the deal
would take over responsibility for Dial a Ride’s services and assets. This would pose a
number of problems in terms of staff, vehicles and premises. It could be run as a going
concern, merged with borough statutory services, or parts of it could be retained by
individual boroughs and other parts disposed of as appropriate.
Though for some boroughs this would not be a particularly attractive option, there would
still be a need to ensure that customers were not disadvantaged and it would not be
seen as an attack on the cornerstone of service to disabled people.
Option 3 –Borough or sub-regional focus on delivery, rather than a single London
There is also the possibility that boroughs could be asked to return to a similar path of
service delivery to the one that existed before the Mayor’s funding was available.
Boroughs would look to establish local standards on a best practice basis, making use of
both strategic and local suppliers, possibly with borough funding supporting a local
element and the TfL element providing for strategic supply.
A further option is that the scheme returns to a more locally focused delivery, which
would mean that the budget could be deployed to improve local service delivery and
where local standards relating to the scheme could be applied. This would be similar to
the model that existed before the Mayor required boroughs to apply minimum agreed
Given that disability groups previously campaigned vigorously to establish a pan London
standard and to remove what they considered a post code lottery in Taxicard, this could
be seen as a retrograde step and be of particular concern to disabled residents. It would
also mean a substantial disaggregation of the current service, and could mean it is more
difficult to involve other agencies such as the NHS.
10. More detail on how the options might operate, with potential pros and cons of each
approach can be found at Appendix A of this report. Also attached as Appendix B is
further background information on the recent history of door to door services since
the Commission for Accessible Transport pilots.
Equalities Implications for London Councils
11. Door to door services, whether statutory or discretionary make a major
contribution to the quality of life for many disabled people. The proposals
contained in this report are intended to enhance rather than simply maintain the
quality of service currently provided.
12. All three options would initially involve continued funding from TfL. However, the
extent of this cannot be confirmed at this time. What is clear is that in Option 1
the financial risk of an expanding scheme rests with TFL. For Option 2 boroughs
would assume the financial risk while in Option 3 the risk could be mitigated by
local adjustments to manage demand
13. Boroughs are required to deliver statutory services while the discretionary door-
to-door services are currently tied to a service level agreement with TfL. Should
boroughs take over responsibility for Dial a Ride there could be issues relating to
the transfer of staff.
14. That members:-
1) Consider the 3 options regarding the future of door to door services in London,
and decide whether all 3 or a single option should be proposed to TfL.
Appendix A – Possible Options for the implementation of a revised door to
Option 1 – London Councils manage TfL’s Door to Door budget on a Service
Level Agreement (SLA)
1. This option could entail:
TfL transferring the Dial a Ride funding to London Councils to manage service
a combined budget through the existing Taxicard contract.
Dial a Ride assets remaining with TfL
Dial a Ride to supply vehicles within an SLA in terms of performance of
vehicles to perform some services
Current Taxicard contractor (Computer Cab) would schedule Dial a Ride
vehicles in the same way it does its own taxis and Private Hire Vehicles
(PHVs). Computer Cab has confirmed this is possible and has presented a
paper demonstrating how this would work.
All current Taxicard and Dial a Ride members would book via a single booking
The Computer Cab model would also allow the scheduling of vehicles from
other service providers such as borough transport, NHS / PTS and CT.
London Councils to rationalise the service within combined budgets, but TfL
would continue to bear the financial risk of any growth in service for Taxicard
and Dial a Ride
Virement of funding would be possible between the schemes to allow for
London Councils would operate a single regime for controlling total demand to
meet budget constraints
2. The main advantages and disadvantages of this option are:
The boroughs via London Councils would retain control over Taxicard service
More efficient use could be made of Dial a Ride resources by focusing on
larger group trips and retaining group bookings where these currently work well
Having fewer single occupancy trips through efficient scheduling
Technically feasible within a reasonable timeframe and set up costs relatively
TfL continues to bear the financial risk of future growth beyond combined
Boroughs do not have the problem of restructuring Dial a Ride, and dealing
with staff, vehicles and property etc.
TfL would have responsibility for dial-a-ride as an operating company
This model would not necessarily improve Dial a Ride as an organisation, and
there would be less scope for meaningful integration
It would still be high cost because of need to retain Dial a Ride assets
Dial a Ride would still need to function separately
Boroughs would bear the responsibility for the service provided by Dial a Ride
without being in full control
There would, be no integration with other accessible transport services, either
provided by boroughs or NHS
Option 2 – Boroughs manage an integrated Taxicard and Dial a Ride service
3. This option could entail:
London Councils taking over Dial a Ride’s assets (staff, vehicles and possibly
facilities) as well as budget and managing an integrated Taxicard / Dial a Ride
scheme under a London Councils service protocol on behalf of the boroughs
The TfL budget would be capped (possibly to a PCO inflation increase each
year to match boroughs)
The boroughs would bear all the financial risk of any growth in demand in an
integrated scheme so the service would have to be managed within the funding
The scheme would allow rationalisation and would have the potential to be
extended to other service providers using the same booking and scheduling
model as in option 1
The boroughs would have to decide how to deliver the service after the current
contract with Computer Cab ends in 2010
The boroughs would have to decide whether to deploy the Dial a Ride assets
strategically across London on a framework basis or locally on a borough by
borough basis or to dispose of them (either to boroughs or elsewhere)
4. The main advantages and disadvantages of this option are:
The boroughs would retain strategic delivery and broadly agreed London wide
Boroughs would have full control to develop an integrated service and have an
open platform for additional services and investment
Boroughs could make savings through the integration of their own services on
a local basis with Dial a Ride assets and services providing supply side savings
(as have been demonstrated in the Lewisham CAT model (see appendix)
There are potential savings in disaggregating Dial a Ride and combining
services with borough based services
The commissioning of an integrated service, either through London Councils or
as a variant through a management group that could include TfL, could decide
on what services to commission and separate call taking from supply if desired
An integrated approach to commissioning is favoured by the Government
through the North West Centre of Excellence (the national lead on this issue) in
the Providing Transport in Partnership document (see para. 24)
The model would also allow for integration with NHS patient transport services
The boroughs would bear the financial risk of any growth where additional
demand is met by improved supply through integrated services
The boroughs and London Councils would have the major problem of
restructuring Dial a Ride, including responsibility for staff (TUPE issues),
vehicles and buildings
Interim problems with the service during the integration period would be
London Councils’ / the boroughs’ responsibility
Option 3 – Borough based combined accessible transport budgets
5. This option could entail:
On a borough-by-borough basis, establishment of single combined budgets for
accessible transport including the boroughs’ own budget (including SST and
SEN), TfL budget and, if agreed, NHS budget.
TfL (and NHS) could set certain minimum standards to ensure a degree of
London wide coherence
Funders would commission accessible transport on a borough by borough
basis, but this could include London wide operations such as Taxicard and
Provision of London wide operations could be as option 1, including a single,
London wide booking number
London Councils managing Taxicard as in the current scheme with a capped
TfL contribution. Dial a Ride would remain with TfL.
Each borough would have to manage within their budget within clearly set out
local standards that reflected local needs
The boroughs would bear all the financial risk of any growth in demand
6. The main advantages and disadvantages of this option are:
There would be a single integrated commissioning basis for all accessible
transport in any borough
The boroughs would be free to manage their own budgets and make local
decisions based on local needs There would be no Dial a Ride problems to
Allows for the support of local businesses
It does not prevent boroughs from considering integration with other service
The boroughs may need to re-establish local infrastructure
If funding is discretionary, budgets are likely to be cut rather than increased.
It is likely to lead to widespread differences in service provision, between
boroughs leading to accusations of a ‘postcode lottery’ which, in the longer
term, might lead to greater pressure for services to be transferred to London
wide providers such as TfL
TfL may reduce or even withdraw their funding accessible transport unless
strategic London wide standards are maintained.
Appendix B - Background Information
Commission for Accessible Transport (CAT) report findings
1. In 1998, the Commission for Accessible Transport (CAT), which was established
by the then Transport Committee for London (TCfL), now London Councils TEC,
agreed a report which called for pilot schemes to test various proposals for
integrating different methods of providing door-to-door transport services for
people with disabilities. Four pilot schemes were established on the basis of
funding provided by TCfL, London Transport (now Transport for London) and the
Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions (now Department for
2. The following pilots were established to test methods for integrating the current
types of door to door transport provided for mobility impaired people who have
severe difficulty using public transport modes.
Pilot 1: Newham – combined Taxicard and Dial-a-Ride into a single service
branded as door2door to test demand side integration.
Pilot 2: Lewisham – integrated Dial-a Ride (fleet) with the borough transport
fleet to test supply side integration. LB Lewisham is unusual in that as well as
providing Social services and Education transport it also has health service
Pilot 3: Havering – combined spare borough education and social services
transport capacity with Taxicard.
Pilot 4: Hackney – was a scheme already in progress that became a CAT pilot.
It brought together community transport and borough transport for education
and social services.
3. The pilots in LB Hackney and LB Havering were successful in achieving their
objectives, but were very limited in scope and too small to really contribute
significantly to a future approach. The main benefits were that council vehicles
and licensed PHVs can be used in conjunction with other forms of transport, but
not necessarily in exactly the same mix as in these pilots.
4. The LB Lewisham pilot was considered by all to be a substantial success and
offers a far clearer vision of how supply side integration can work in practice. A
higher quality, more efficient service was provided, whilst at the same time
offering savings. London Councils thought at the time that this was the most
successful pilot, but it was not favoured by TfL as it was subject to borough
5. The outcome in LB Newham was more mixed. Initially the quality and availability
of door-to-door services increased and costs accelerated above the budgeted
level. Measures had to be introduced very quickly to bring these back in line and
several changes in the scheme were needed to achieve this. In the interim, the
additional costs were supported by TfL using the fund and criteria used for
enhancing Taxicard in all other boroughs – an approach agreed by Members.
By the end of the pilot it was hard to say that costs had been brought fully back to
forecast. TfL and LB Newham have continued to introduce changes to the
scheme subsequently and the Taxicard / Dial a Ride hybrid service continues
Developments since CAT
6. TfL has been conducting a review of Door to Door services for a number of
years, but until recently their focus has been almost exclusively on rolling out
variations of the LB Newham model to other boroughs, as this was TfL’s favoured
model for door to door. They have been reluctant to include other services that
were not managed, funded or partly funded by them.
7. The boroughs have always been wary of integrating Taxicard with Dial a Ride
due to its high cost, inflexibility and inefficient scheduling, which does not appear
to have been substantially improved by their new call centre and scheduling
software. Boroughs and London Councils officers are still concerned at the poor
performance of Dial a Ride.
8. Taxicard has continued to grow year on year and between 2003/4 to 2007/8
there have been the following increases:
Membership from 50,504 to 78,369 (55.17%)
Trips from 791,239 to 1,436,134 (81.50%)
Cost from £9.09m to £15.41m (69.53%)
9. It is believed that Dial a Ride’s budget is around £26m and they provided around
1.1m to 1.2m trips per year during this period.
10. Patient Transport Services continues to be fragmented with many local contracts
throughout London. A report commissioned by London Councils revealed that
around 15% of Taxicard trips are used by members travelling to and from
hospital. This means, in effect, that the boroughs and TfL are cross subsidising
NHS non emergency transport in many instances. London Councils officers plan
to speak to NHS trusts with a view to discussing formal co-operation between
Taxicard, other door to door services and Patient Transport Services.
11. In 2007 the North West Centre of Excellence published ‘Providing Transport in
Partnership’. The document provides advice to local authorities and NHS
agencies on the benefits of integrating the organisation and procurement of
transport provided for patients and clients across various sectors. It made four
strategic recommendations, of which one promotes local authorities and the NHS
adopting an integrated approach:
That Local Authorities and NHS Agencies should recognise the benefits,
especially in terms of financial savings, of an integrated approach to passenger
transport planning procurement and provision, and should establish
partnerships to facilitate this approach.