Correspondent Iain Balch (letters. last week) has rightly drawn attention to the 1985 Transport Act, designed to promote privatisation of the bus industry, then skates over the vital contribution made by the taxpayer to the fares charged to Stagecoach passengers.
The majority of Stagecoach passengers enjoy concessionary fares, travelling free with the state providing financial compensation to the bus operator through WSCC.
This applies whether a ‘commercial’ or ‘social needs’ service is being provided by this ‘private sector’ operator.
WSCC is able to exercise some discretion over the disbursement of grant payments received from central government, which are inevitably inadequate to meet perceived obligations; hence the need for the current consultation.
Were WSCC able to reduce the value of the bus pass by £2 per journey, for example, Stagecoach would charge each pass holder £2 and the WSCC obligation to Stagecoach would be reduced accordingly.
This would generate an additional discretionary spend for WSCC which MIGHT decide to use to protect the ‘social needs’ service.
Mr Balch is correct in claiming useage of the 60 service has increased since the increase in frequency, but I doubt it has doubled. Unfortunately, under the current system, more passengers on concessions will do nothing to help WSCC finance the ‘social needs’ service.
Double deckers have always been useful for the school runs, particularly in the morning, while the ‘post-9.30 pensioner run’ usually requires a double decker to accommodate those wishing to travel. At other times, even the smallest single deckers wouldn’t be filled.
Unfortunately, ‘leap frogging’ and ‘bunching’ has become a feature of the 60 service, no doubt caused by traffic and roadworks; surely the answer lies in more effective traffic management to reduce fuel use, vehicle wear and tear, pollution and passenger frustration? Don Lambert