Friday, 12 August 2011

B line – unintended effects ?

On the 1st August to very little publicity, the latest of the cuts to public transport in Derbyshire made by the Conservative led County Council took effect with the change of concession for b_line card holders, with the fare going from half fare to two thirds.

The change which seems to have being timed to come in at a time when ‘young people’ are most likely to want to use public transport to access leisure facilities etc, gets very little mention on the county council website, despite the range of issues recently publicised and only gets a mention in the most recent issue of the b_line magazine.

The article within the b_line magazine (available by clicking here) sets out for it’s readers the reasoning behind the changes and stresses that it will only effect young people over the age of 14 who are holders of the ‘silver’ b_line 2 card with those under 14 / holders of the ‘orange’ b_line card being unaffected.

However, the reality of the situation has been slightly different with a number of calls being received from local residents who despite the details being published by the County Council have instead found that they are having to pay 2/3 rd’s fare for all young people rather than just those aged over 14.

After checking with both our local bus company and the county council, it appears that there is an unintended consequence from this change which has meant that fare have risen for all young people rather than just those under 14.

Our local bus company Speedwell advise (in line with Stagecoach as detailed on their website) :

“In accordance with the change to the DCC concessionary scheme, we have implemented a one third reduction of the adult fare for children as of the 1st of August. Thus for example the Glossop/Gamesley child fare is now £1.50.”

So far, so clear it appears they are acting in line with the change made by the County Council.

However after further investigation with the County Council the unintended consequence becomes clear from their response :

“There have been no changes to the b_line scheme by DCC for b_line 1 card holders.  However, the b_line 1 card only acts as proof of ID.  Child fares charged (on commercial services) are set by the operator and not DCC.”

Thus meaning that for all our young people (particularly in the Glossopdale area) the decision of the Conservative led County Council to make a cut that would only effect the over 14’s has had a far wider ‘unintended’ knock on effect and raised fares for all young people.

You could say that this is just the bus companies being opportunistic – however given that DCC advise that the fare is set by the operator and that no consideration was made within the cabinet report to prevent this – is it really an ‘unintended effect’ ?

Now whilst the effect at the moment may only limit access to leisure facilities and the like, the effect come September could be much more drastic with hard pressed families having to pay even more than at current just to get kids to school, and that’s before next April’s cut to direct school buses takes place.

Don’t forget it’s not just the young who have been effected in the changes this August with holders of the Gold Card losing the rail discount and having to pay for ‘dial a bus services’.

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