Councils left to plug £450m funding gap for bus pass scheme


Insufficient funding from the Government meant that English councils had to spend £452m on the concessionary bus fares scheme last year, the Local Government Association (LGA) has said.

Through the scheme, older and disabled people can travel for free on off-peak local bus services. Local authorities are responsible for reimbursing bus operators for this concession.

The LGA said there was a £452m gap between the funding the Government provided for concessionary bus fares and the cost of journeys made through the scheme last year.

It said that the system of funding was ‘unfit for purpose’ and called for the Government to finance the scheme in full.

The organisation also said the high cost meant local authorities were having to scale back other services, such as free peak travel, community transport services, reduced fares and school transport.

Cllr Linda Taylor, transport spokesperson for the LGA, said: ‘Our analysis shows that the scheme is not being adequately funded, leaving councils to try and find nearly half a billion pounds every year from their own overstretched budgets to keep it running. This is completely unsustainable.

‘It is vital this scheme is properly funded so councils can protect bus routes and reinvest in local networks. By providing long-term funding for buses across the country, councils can invest in improved services, attracting more people to use public transport.’

This story first appeared on

Register now for full access

Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

comments powered by Disqus