CTA Policy Statement 1.1 (2011)

Community Transport and Concessionary Travel

The CTA believes that every member of the public is entitled to equality of access and that concessionary travel is an increasingly important mechanism that can be used in the pursuit of this aim.  It is imperative that concessionary travel schemes do not discriminate against any of the intended beneficiaries, and the CTA believes that central government policy should explicitly reflect this.  Concessionary travel scheme administrators must ensure that such a policy is implemented effectively and that every eligible passenger has access to the same level of service.

The CTA still believes, therefore, that the following over-arching strategic aim should be adopted by UK and devolved governments:

Any person unable to make use of their concession on existing eligible transport services as a result of disability, age or other limiting factor should be permitted to use it on other transport services, with the operators of those services being reimbursed by the administrators of the local concessionary travel scheme.  All eligible passengers should receive equal access to services.  However, the provision of this fair level of service to currently excluded individuals must not adversely affect the level or quality of service enjoyed by existing passengers.  This service provision should be adequately resourced by central government, whether the UK government or the appropriate devolved administration in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Furthermore, the following specifc objectives should be adopted as part of the drive to meet the above aim:

OBJECTIVE 1
If passengers can show that registered local bus services cannot deliver the concessionary travel to which they are entitled, the travel concessionary autority (TCA) should be required to ensure that the concessions delivered by an alternative transport provider.

OBJECTIVE 2
Community transport services offering individual travel to eligible passengers under Section 19 Standard Permits should be entitled to reimbursement in the same way as registered local bus services.

OBJECTIVE 3
TCAs should be required to demonstrate that schemes are focused on user requirements and not on the administrative requirements of the scheme administrators.

OBJECTIVE 4
Given that community transport services are non-commercial and already frequently operate at capacity, they are not in a position to beneft from the anticipated increase in passengers that improved concessionary fares will bring to commercial operators.  The concessions allowed to passengers travelling with non-commercial operators should therefore be reimbursed in full.

OBJECTIVE 5
As well as including a wider range of transport service providers in concessionary schemes, the cost of training some people (eg travellers with a learning disability) to use their concessionary entitlement should be covered by the scheme itself.

Government should review the impact of changes to concessionary travel policy and delivery mechanisms in order to assess whether the above objectives are being met, to ensure that neither passengers nor operators are worse off as a result and to review the overall cost of implementation. This should be a UK-wide exercise which compares and contrasts the approaches taken in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and their impacts.

Stakeholder interests

The effect of implementing policies to achieve the above objectives will have important ramifcations for different groups of stakeholders.  The stakeholder groups, and some of the issues they face, are: 

Passenger transport users
People are entitled to equal access.  Disability discrimination is not acceptable and CTA believes it is that it is likely that action under the Equalities Act or human rights legislation may result if equal access to services continues to be denied. 

Community transport providers
Operators should be ‘no better or worse off’ as a result of providing concessionary travel and being reimbursed for its provision.  It is important that community transport operators recognise this and focus services on user need.  They should not view concessionary travel as merely a mechanism to increase funding - it is not!  However, community transport operators need to be aware of the legislation governing payment of administration costs - it has created a mechanism which they can use to help achieve their aim of providing access, mobility and choice to excluded groups and individuals.  Operators must record both the level of demand they are able to meet and that which they are unable to meet.  They must also work with scheme administrators and policy makers to continually assess the levels of need.

Concessionary travel scheme administrators
Running concession schemes involves complex administrative procedures.  Administrators, quite rightly, desire to operate as efficiently as possible, but schemes must not be designed primarily for ease of administration.  There is great concentration on preventing fraud, but schemes’ procedures to achieve this can render access to concessionary travel too complex for some disadvantaged passengers.

Central and local government
Lack of finance is not an acceptable excuse for discrimination.  The cost of providing equal access for disabled and non-disabled travellers should be assessed and made available to scheme administrators to reimburse the widest possible range of operators.

Conclusion

Transport is only a means to an end but it has a huge impact on almost everything we do.  It has an even bigger impact on those who are socially excluded.  The CTA aims to influence the actions and policies of local, regional and central government, and of those who fund or contract community transport services, to bring about an accessible and inclusive public transport network which does not discriminate against any person or group of people. 

The CTA welcomes comments on this policy statement from all concessionary travel stakeholders. We recognise that significant discussion will be required to achieve many of the technical, regulatory and administrative changes to concessionary travel schemes that the CTA advocates, but we are committed to achieving our objectives, as set out in this statement, in an open and collaborative manner.


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Community Transport Association UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered in Cardiff no. 1985361 Registered office: Aeroworks, 5 Adair Street, Manchester M1 2NQ. Registered as a charity in England and Wales no. 1002222. Charity Registered in Scotland No. SC038518.

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