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Bus Services: Concessions

Volume 507: debated on Tuesday 16 March 2010

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will assess the merits of introducing a concessionary bus travel scheme for persons aged (a) up to 15 years old and (b) between 16 and 19 years old; and if he will estimate the cost to the public purse of introducing such a scheme in (i) England, (ii) Gloucestershire and (iii) Stroud constituency. (322051)

The Government have no plans at present to introduce a statutory bus concession for young people. Any extensions to the scope of the current statutory minimum would bring with them associated costs and would require careful consideration of the full impacts, including: the effect on limited spare bus capacity; the potential for distortion of the commercial bus market; and the impact on walking and cycling initiatives.

Local authorities are best placed to decide on the most appropriate discretionary concessions in their areas, offering far more flexibility than would be the case with a blanket statutory concession.

The Department for Transport recently commissioned some research on the cost and impact of options for extending the current statutory minimum concessionary travel scheme. Based on this research, the Department estimates that it would cost:

(a) around an extra £1.2 billion per annum to extend the statutory minimum concession to enable 5 to 16-year-olds to travel anytime for free on buses England-wide.

(b) around an extra £740 million per annum to extend the statutory minimum concession to enable 14 to 19-year-olds in full-time education to travel anytime for free on buses England-wide.

The Department does not have any estimates for specific counties or constituencies.