Thursday, 4 April 2013

How Much?

Inspired indirectly by Sarah on Chertsey, who is recording how much little she is spending in supermarkets, I have decided to record how MUCH I am saving with my bus pass!

Some people seem to feel guilty about suddenly being given free bus travel at the age of 60+, especially those that never used the buses when they had to pay. But I don't. I've been using buses to a greater or lesser extent since I went to secondary school. I even spent nearly 40 years of my working life in public transport but because I worked for the local authority rather than an operator I received no travel concessions of any sort. So I reckon I've earned mine.

Of course, there's no such thing as a free bus ride. Someone has to pay - and that someone is the taxpayer; but I'm one of those too. If you are a taxpayer and you are concerned about how much I am costing you, please bear in mind that what I SAVE and what it COSTS you are not the same. When I use my pass I pay nothing, but the local council pay the bus company for my journey. However, they don't pay the full amount, typically only 50 - 60p in the £.

The whole reimbursement process is incredibly convoluted and the subject of endless disputes between bus companies, local authorities and government. There's so much to take account of to ensure bus companies are "no better nor no worse off" than they would have been in the absence of a pass scheme as the law requires. For instance, would I pay £1.65 for the just-over-a-mile trip back from town - or would I get off at the stop before and pay £1.20, or would I have used the bus at all - and how much is the company therefore entitled to for my journey?  On the other hand, how much does the bus company gain when Hilary comes with me paying full fare whereas it's unlikely we'd have used the bus if we'd both have had to pay?  What about the cost of running extra buses to cater for all the passholders going to places like Blackpool or Scarborough when bus companies get only 50 - 60% of the revenue they'd have got from farepayers?  Or the extra wear and tear on the tyres and brakes by stopping more often? I've even heard a junior bus manager allege that "extra cleaning costs" would be incurred by his company due to the greater number of pensioners! (He never came to subsequent negotiations!)

Anyway, I've wondered for some time how much "value" I get out of my pass, so starting from 1st April I've decided to record it. Where I don't know what the fare would have been I'll have to ask the driver, although some of the time I'll just estimate it. So far I've had one bus ride home from the city centre at £1.65 and a journey from Skipton to Manchester, which used three buses and for which I could have got a day ticket at £8.

I wonder if I can SAVE more than Sarah SPENDS!

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