John Andrews, a former councillor in Chichester, says the arrangements for bus passes are unfair and expensive to administer
Introduced by the dreadful New Labour Government with the active support of Blair and Brown and Balls, the bus pass for the over 60s is an appalling example of a confusion between administrative stupidity and unnecessary expense, increased inequality of public good provision between urban and suburban residents, and a blatant political lie propagated on every bus pass.
For those of us in rural areas the bus pass has almost no value, for those in the suburbs of market towns/cities whether Chichester or London the value is very substantial, but at a substantial cost to the taxpayer. In Chichester DC for example the Council has had to pay up some £600,000 this fiscal year above the central Government funds to reimburse the bus operating companies – nearly £6/head of the District's population men, women, and children and probably nearer £27/head of the net tax payers in the District.
It would be more equitable to take the total cost of the free bus passes (including Ken Livingstone's travel largesse for Londoners!) and distribute the pot equally to all in receipt of the state retirement pension as a taxable once a year pension. At a stroke administration would be drastically reduced, bus operators would have improved cash flow and pensioners would have an equitable if small boost to their pensions – taxed as they say progressively.
And the blatant lie?
On the bottom of the bus pass is the legend:
"Concessionary travel funded by HM Government and your local authority"
We all know it is funded by net tax payers – and if Mad Bad Red Ed had his way by our children's children!