Select Committee Announcement
Committee Office, House of Commons, Westminster House, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA
CHAIRMAN'S PRESS RELEASE
Ticketing and Concessionary Travel on Public Transport (HC 84)
On the day the English national concessionary travel scheme is launched (1 April), the Transport Select Committee warmly welcomes the scheme.
In its report, Ticketing and Concessionary Travel on Public Transport, the Committee says the Government is providing an important extension to the well-being of our constituents and wishes to find ways of encouraging people to use public transport. There are, however, some basic problems still to be resolved.
The Committee found that extending concessionary travel to rail services would be costly and doubted whether rail services currently have adequate capacity. It says any additional enhancements to the scheme should be introduced locally although there may be a case for widening access to community transport schemes. It also pointed out that 11 million concessionary travel smartcards have been issued, but currently many buses are not equipped to read them.
Commenting on the report, Chairman of the Committee the Hon Mrs Gwyneth Dunwoody said: "The ability to travel freely across the country by bus is a great boon and we welcome that. However, the scheme will cost £1 billion it is important to get value for money."
The UK has developed the ITSO standard (the Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation) which is intended to ensure that smartcards and smartcard equipment across a variety of transport services are compatible across a variety of transport services. The Committee says this is a step in the right direction and believes more can be done.
Mrs Dunwoody said: "The Government needs a clearer strategy to move forward with integrated ticketing. The everyday act of changing buses should not be made inconvenient and expensive because of the ticketing arrangements."
"It is also vital that any new integrated smartcard system would have to have integrated protection systems to prevent fraud and payment avoidance. However we do not think it sensible to focus exclusively on installing ticket gates at rail stations, as these can cause delays and obstructions for passengers and they are not always the best methods of protecting rail revenue."
The Committee also recommends:
A robust study and evaluation of the benefits of concessionary travel in England be undertaken without delay.
The Government agree a programme with bus operators to install ITSO smartcard equipment on buses.
Where local authorities are currently profiting from concessionary travel funding, perhaps as a result of sparse local bus network, they should be encouraged to enhance local concessionary travel arrangements.
A more transparent mechanism to compensate operators for concessionary travel and avoid the waste and rancour generated by the current system.
The Government use its powers to transfer the travel concession functions from district councils to county councils.
A more independent appeals system for those accused of fare dodging on bus and rail.
Coaches should be more closely integrated with other modes of public transport and the Government should give coaches greater consideration in future statements of public transport policy.
If the Government is minded to extend concessionary travel in the future, young people should receive priority consideration.
1. Committee Membership is as follows: Mrs Gwyneth Dunwoody (Chairman) (Crewe and Nantwich), Mr David Clelland (Tyne Bridge), Clive Efford (Eltham), Mrs Louise Ellman (Liverpool Riverside), Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering), Mr John Leech (Manchester Withington), Mr Eric Martlew (Carlisle), Mr Lee Scott (Ilford North), David Simpson (Upper Bann), Mr Graham Stringer (Manchester Blackley), Mr David Wilshire (Spelthorne).
2. Further information about the work of the Committee and its membership can be found at www.parliament.uk/transcom
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SCA 29/2007-08 1 April 2008