Consultation 2013/14 (closed)

The proposals

This Public Transport Services and Concessionary Bus Travel review is now closed. The responses have been considered and the proposals revised.

Read the results of the consultation.


The changes we have to make are not going to be easy.  We would like to find out what you think about our proposals.  Please let us know what their impact might be on you.

We are considering a number of options, which we hope will help us to reach our targets while still maintaining transport services.  These options should help us to avoid cutting bus services by:

  • making savings by changing services,
  • changing the way in which services are provided,
  • increasing charges for services rather than entirely taking them away.

Options we are considering

National Bus Pass Scheme

By law, we must provide a National Bus Pass to people of eligible age and people with eligible disabilities. The pass provides free travel on all local bus services after 9.30am Monday to Friday and any time at weekends and Bank Holidays. We cannot take away this statutory provision.

Proposal 1

In the past, we have added extra local elements to the National Bus Pass Scheme. If we stopped providing these extras, it would save up to £47,500 a year.

Proposal 2

We currently allow free travel for National Bus Pass holders before the statutory start time of 9.30am, when there is no other bus before 11.00am. This allowance costs us more money.  We propose to allow free travel before 9.30am, only when there is no other bus before 11.30am instead of 11.00am. This would save £15,000 a year. We would still allow free travel for National Bus Pass holders where the only bus of the day goes before 9.30am.  To comply with National Bus Pass legislation, we are not allowed to encourage pass holders to make any payment on journeys where the bus pass applies.

Proposal 3

If someone loses their bus pass, we may charge for a replacement. The current charge is £8.  We propose £10, saving us £4,000 a year.  This charge is in line with the cost of administering replacement passes and is what many other councils charge.  We cannot charge more than it costs to replace the pass.  We currently replace nearly 2,000 lost passes per year. Do you think this increase is reasonable?

Post-16 student transport

Proposal 4

Students over the age of sixteen are not automatically entitled to free transport to college.  We offer a student travel pass for £500 a year (reduced to £470 if paid in one lump sum) to eligible students.  The pass covers some of the cost of travelling to college.  Because of past competition between bus companies, weekly passes purchased throughout the college year on Devon County Council funded bus services in northern Devon, totals only £396 a year.  We are proposing that on subsidised bus services, everyone should pay £500. This could save us £40,000 in 2014/15.

341 comments on “The proposals

  1. South Huish Parish Council |

    We have no strong objections to your proposals but would wish to see the current local bus service remain for benefit of parishioners and particularly local employers/employees. Suggestion: Use the School Bus to Hope Cove for fee paying passengers as well as schoolchildren.

  2. Brian Lamb |

    The response is on behalf of Bere Ferrers Parish Council of which I am the Chairman and are in response to your consultation document.

  3. Joy Hanson |

    personally I woud not object to paying £10 p a for my bus pass

  4. Ermington Parish Council |


    Re: Proposal 1 & 2. National Bus Pass (saves £47,500)
    – provide the National Bus Pass Scheme for statutory periods only (ie Mon – Fri after 9.30am, All day Sat, Sun & Bank Hols) – SUPPORT

    Re: Proposal 3. Lost Bus Pass (saves £4,000)
    – increase replacement costs for lost bus passes from £8 to £10 – SUPPORT

    Re: Proposal 4. Student Transport (saves £40,000)
    – increase cost of student bus pass on subsided bus services in north Devon, so the student bus pass cost is consistent throughout Devon – SUPPORT

  5. Bob Ferris |

    I am in agreement that the bus pass should be an entitlement at retirement age, for which government plans are in motion to gradually increase to that age.

    However other than that I do not agree with or accept any of the proposals, other than 3, where a reasonable cost for lost cards is acceptable. I think Bus use and free passes for those entitled is a good scheme, and should be encouraged not reduced, restricted or removed. There are many issues and benefits which need to be considered in the fuller picture.
    The bus passes are not automatically issued, but have to be applied for. Does anyone know the percentage take up of bus pass entitlement, and the split between the ‘better’ and less ‘well off’? Many people in both groups do not have one. But many should be encouraged to take up the offer of free passes and use public transport. This would reduce numbers of cars on the road and traffic congestion, with the benefit of reduced CO2 emissions, a DCC objective.
    Also many ‘elderly’ people should indeed not even be driving, and are a danger on the road, but feel dependant on car transport so do not give up driving. Until that is they have accidents. Therefore a further benefit of more people on buses is potential reduced accidents; with accompanying benefits viz. reduced emergency services call out and time, NHS treatment costs, and saving of lives
    People with free bus passes, especially those with modest pension incomes, and not having running costs of cars to pay for will have more money available to spend on the 3 biggest costs they otherwise have i.e. energy, food and Council Tax.
    Many elderly people can become housebound. Free bus travel encourages people out thus providing them with social opportunities they might not otherwise take up. This could be daily or even weekly trips into town centres, villages, seaside resorts etc. for meets with others. Additional benefits are there also for businesses and shop owners who pick up passing trade from these people even if just the cafes and/or coffee shops.
    Full busses are busy busses. Bus pass travellers keep the buses full. If free passes are cancelled or reduced, or charges introduced, many routes may be in jeopardy of cancellation due to lack of passenger use. This has an impact on the bus companies, but more especially those passengers dependant on bus routes. I would certainly go back to using the car more often if charges are introduced.

    Having travelled a lot abroad one sees that foreign countries seem to have much better public transport strategies which revolve around cheap and free public travel as well as cheap and free car parking. What exactly is our transport strategy and objectives?

    If Council savings need to be made, they should be looked at and achieved in areas that do not require cutbacks on service delivery.
    For example:
    Overpaid senior management and management structures.
    Unaffordable, and unsustainable ‘gold plated pensions’.
    Excessive, costly and unacceptable level of sickness days.
    Inefficient and/or incompetent service provisions.
    Large redundancy payments to staff that are then reemployed to new positions or hired as consultants.
    Redundancy payments to staff that are at or near retirement age.

    I suggest that savings can easily be made without cuts to service provision or by compromising schemes such as free bus passes, especially when the benefits of the bus pass are considered.

  6. Denise Ashton |

    I do appreciate having my bus pass and as we are encouraged to use public transport, rather than cars, I hope they will be retained. However, I think the changes need to be made at government level, with maybe going back to the original idea that it could only be used in your own local area.

  7. vicky rose |

    If charges have to be made for these services and/or cuts made, then they have to be. Most people are lucky to have a decent bus service – here in Moreton the last bus from Exeter gets into Moreton at about 6.15 pm, so no chance of being able to catch a bus into Exeter for the evening, and we’re not much better served during the day.

  8. Sheila Squibb |

    I greatly value my bus pass but feel a small contribution on each trip made would be appropriate. Perhaps it is time for some change in the statutory situation.

  9. ian simpson |

    The bus pass is an invaluable benefit AND helps to reduce the number of cars on the road. There do seem to be a large number of non-pensioners and non-students with cards on the buses. I do wonder how these are funded!

  10. Andrew Roberts |

    I am registered blind and have no other option but to use public transport, and I am very grateful for the use of a bus pass. However I work in Exeter and my pass cannot be used on my journey into work in the morning. I would be prepared to pay for a disabled persons bus passs that could be used on any journey.
    If you limit the number of trips per week that could be used by pensioners to 4 (2returns) per week and charge disabled passengers for an unlimited pass if they wanted this would probably save a considerable amount.

  11. Chris |

    Also….if pensioners can afford to attend rugby, the should have to pay for the bus there!

  12. Chris |

    I feel that transport/public transport/highways is one area that should see fewer cuts, but maybe a modest increase in parking charges in areas where public transport is plentiful could raise extra revenue….or higher charges for motorhomes/caravans [if thats not done already?) Bigger fines or fees for utility companies who mess roads up.

  13. Roma Patten |

    The increase in the charge for replacement concession passes should be introduced as soon as possible.
    I was sorry to see on a lunch time Spotlight programme that the BBC failed to explain the full reason for the proposal to standardise the student fares at proposal 4.

  14. Graham Gammons |

    Some needy services would stop operating if they were not supported by the tourists,mainly in the summer
    Large ,sometimes,double deaker buses are being used on routes that could easily be served by more efficient and cost effective smaller buses .There should be more cooperation with the operators and analysis of customer usage.
    Some routes should be combined.Bus timetables need a complete overall and review.
    Stop large empty buses running at non peak times.Use smaller buses doubling up on routes
    Some one needs to talk to the operator /providers of the buses.More analysis and planning would easily save the sums of money wasted
    I can give you loads of examples of where I have experienced some of these observations

  15. Malcolm Rose |

    Common sense needs to be applied to these proposals.

  16. Pat Mathewson |

    My only comment is that I am unable to use the buses because it is impossible to fit my small electric wheelchair in the space provided because of the orange pole and the lack of maneuvering space. I wouldn’t mind paying if only I could get on the bus and use it!

  17. Hugh Marriage |

    Paradoxically, buses often become uneconomical to run when their frequency is reduced in order to “cut costs”. To be commercially viable buses have to be frequent, reliable and comfortable. The number of people on the buses between Totnes and Kingsbridge, for instance, seems to have dropped as the service has been reduced – people are not crowding onto the next bus, they are instead using cars on our overcrowded roads. But if bus services can be run frequently enough to be commercially viable, the need for subsidy will be reduced. I fear we are heading for a position where our bus services become infrequent so unviable and DCC has no money to maintain them.

  18. Mark Knibbs |

    I would rather pay £10 to get the bus psss than having all the restriction on it

  19. Diana Frost |

    Without these bus passes many of us would not go out, that leading to people seeing their GPs etc more through depression,some people only go on the free passes as their incomes are limited,some its the only people they see is on the bus,so yes these passes are important,your hoildaymakers use their passes to access are towns which brings in \vital revenue to some of our towns yes the bill for them is high,but the councils do tend to waste money,on surveys etc,how much is this consaltation costing?also our young children deserve to have cheap travel they are the future,or while they are willing to learn trades or are we going to have generations on job seekers as they cant afford to get to the colleges to learn,why has the time got to be 9.30,why can it not be 9 then you wouldnt have to subsidised many routes shorely putting more buses on is cheaper.

  20. Enid Radford |

    I am exceptionally pleased with my free age-related Bus Pass. Would it be too expensive to implement and charge all bus- pass users £50.00 a year? (Less than £1.00 a week). It would be better than stopping the pass completely and still save the Bus Driver’s time, when older people board and fumble around in their purses for money and receipt of a ticket? I cannot speak for many OAP’s but this comment has been accepted when I have suggested it in the bus queue. Enid Radford

  21. tim gibbins |

    I rely on my bus pass to get about (I cannot drive). This has become more and more limited in recent years , but looks like opening up now that I have a guide dog.My son who travels to Plymouth from Tavistock 3 times a week also uses his pass for college and , increasingly for socialising with his friends in Plymouth.If you want to save money scrap the companion pass , which I cannot use to Plymouth and back because West Devon and Plymouth are different authorities.

  22. tim gibbins |

    I have held a bus pass for many years now (registered blind since 2004). I am now over 60 and am entitled to one anyway .I don’t use the bus much (Plymouth and back from Tavistock) but having just got a guide dog I do plan to take it up to the moor during the week , when my wife is not around to accompany me .I might also use the bus more often to get to other places to visit friends and just to get out more . I have been almost housebound for 2 years now , but with a dog that is now beginning to change.

  23. Fremington Parish Council |

    Fremington Parish Council would like to express its grave concerns at the proposed increase to students and alterations to the bus passes which will have a negative impact on the viability of rural routes. Devon County Council states that there are only 200 subsidies but most of these are rural routes which will impact on our already struggling town centres and could lead to potential isolation of venerable residents.


    I think that there should be an initial charge for the National Bus Pass even if it just enough to cover the administration to produce the card or, how about a cost of £50 for five years – surely no one could complain of paying just £5 a year (apart from those that expect everthin for nothing.)

  25. David Ford |

    I understand in the past and perhaps it still happens that the Exeter D bus service is subsidised. does this really need to continue? If not stop it and save money. if the full route is not commercially viable to run it shouldn’t be subsidised by council tax payers for the benefit of stagecoach.

  26. Sue Holcombe |

    Dear Sir

    Living in Kingsbridge, I concur completely with the comments of Paul Bennett of Totnes on the poor public bus service between Totnes, Kingsbridge and Salcombe. I would endorse his suggestion to attempt to persuade Stage Coach to run a complementary service to support the Tally Ho bus company. A regular service between Totnes Station and Kingsbridge/Salcombe is essential for holiday makers. I have heard many comments from visitors arriving by train at Totnes, only to find that they have to wait an hour or more to continue to their holiday destination. As a County we need the income which is hopefully provided by visitors to the area.

    When the railway service from Kingsbridge closed in 1962 we were promised it would be replaced by an adequate bus service. We are still waiting.

    Please do not allow our already less than adequate public transport to deteriorate further.

    Yours faithfully

    Sue Holcombe

  27. Amy Smith |

    It is very difficult in our County of Devon, which covers a wide range of urban, suburban and countryside travel routes to take a blanket view of concessions and free travel to certain people. One person’s “absolutely necessary lifeline service” is another’s under-valued and little-used asset, and many more examples exist in between. Also, the cheapest systems to adminster are those which have the least number of provisos and conditions to be met. If a complicated system of charging is introduced, it may well negate the savings made.

  28. Bob Horn |

    Bus passes are a good way of getting cars of the road, therefore less money on upkeep of the highways, less congestion in towns, and less accidents. Pensioners should be rewarded for not having a car. In Norwich the pensioners have taken to the buses in droves, easing parking, and road use 80 passengers on a bus means 40 cars less in town. Perhaps this is a better, cheaper, way to go.

  29. T J Hooper |

    The proposals are only tinkering with very little obvious benefit to me.
    The wider debate really concerns a free system at all.
    To me it seems right that the less well off should have some benefits, but how is that to be administered (and would it make that big a savings anyway?)

    Perhaps the basis of broad plan could be thus –
    1. General Passes automatically issued to pensioners with a tax code below a certain value.
    2. A very limited Pass automatically issued to remaining pensioners for only specific routes, e.g. within city/town routes, which could be clearly indicated with a letter

  30. Ms J Eyre |

    Despite being only seven miles from Tiverton the bus service in Bampton is so limited any further restrictions, whether in frequency of service or cost and use of passes would render it useless. The time-tabling is such that it is not possible to use the service for work or college. The last bus from Tiverton is at 5.30pm and the last bus into Tiverton is at 7pm which means it is impossible to use our nearest town for social and leisure activities. This of course means the younger section of the community is unable to use the sports centre, cinema and other social opportunities; the cost of taxis is also prohibitive. The introduction of a small regular ‘hopper’ bus such as service the suburbs in cities would be more effective, in both efficiency and cost, than the large empty coaches that currently make infrequent circuits and cause difficulties for other drivers on the narrow lanes.

  31. Jean Noble |

    If a ‘small charge’ is introduced, however small, it is in place to be increased. This is the thin end of the wedge.
    A charge will definitely discourage many retired people from making full use of their buses. As has been said by others, this will curtail their opportunities for expanding horizons beyond the confines of their dwelling, with all the social consequences. When people go on a bus ride, they use the facilities at their destination, e.g. coffee shops, shops, markets, leisure centres, etc. They will therefore Spend money. Cutting back on travel will reduce the support that most businesses need to survive. This will encourage a downward spiral of the town centres.

  32. H.C. & P.M. Clement |

    We are fortunate in that we are still able to drive, although I am approaching 85 yrs. therefore I do not use the bus pass very much – four times in this pass year. Perhaps it is only fair that we should all – if able – share some financial burden if imposed.

  33. Jenny Farmer |

    I think we have to differentiate between essential travel, i.e. work or school and leisure travel. Most bus pass holders would, I am sure, be prepared to pay a nominal amount for leisure travel, if it means that college students are able to get to their place of study at a reasonably affordable rate. Families with more than one child are finding it increasingly difficult to pay for over 16’s travel, we should be encouraging these young people to continue in further education, not making it impossible for them to get there at the expense of day trips for pleasure.

  34. Non Driver |

    I don’t drive so rely on public transport, I’m already restricted as services to Somerset have been reduced so I’m am not looking forward to being stuck in Devon as well. The amount of free tickets wouldn’t be so high if the recipients of bus passes had been thought out first but someone ‘makes’ these LAWS which then, can’t be altered. It’s often rumoured that journeys by bus passes are costing companies too much, and may be fazed out, as a pensioner I’d be quite happy to pay 50p a journey, but if a price is brought in then you can guarantee it’ll be something like 75% of a normal ticket – out pricing our pockets so we can’t travel at all.

  35. Paul Bennett |

    Living in Totnes I entirely support what Simon Cronk of Dartington has said. With the number of additional dwellings likely to be constructed along the A385 corridor within the next few years it is vital for public transport to reduce the impact of private vehicular traffic. Apparently powers have existed since 2000 to take buses under local control instead of the present free- for -all which resulted here in the loss of the vital 111 service from Dartmouth to Torquay via Torbay hospital. The new DCC subsidised 149 is not an adequate substitute. Likewise the loss of the X84 through to Kingsbridge and Salcombe leaving only the 164 has resulted in a very poor service between Totnes and those two towns. With First having given up the X80 and X81 now is the time to persuade Stagecoach to run complementary rather than competitive services within the South Hams area. DCC has an excellent record on working with FGW on rail services but seems remarkably lacking in imagination over bus services. Totnes rail station with over 600,000 passengers using it a year must become a proper transport hub. Only DCC has the ability to achieve this. The cuts in central government funding are to be deplored but co-operation between bus companies (notwithstanding competition law) rather than competition ought to provide better services at less cost.

  36. Phillip Dredge |

    One area of concern is that if DCC start differentiating between residents and visitors through the choice of services this could lead to retaliation by other counties, although I would assume that this would still benefit residents of Devon overall.

  37. C Coombes |

    Many people could afford a small charge for their annual bus pass or to pay a nominal sum for each journey. This does not apply to poorer people, however, so like many other ‘universal benefits’ means testing should apply.

  38. Michael Rowe |

    I think many holders users their passes to travel to Exeter and then use it again to travel on to say Torquay just for a day out. I think this is not what was intended and should be stopped. A return trip into Exeter for say shopping is what I think it should be used for. If pass holders want to travel around on day trips then they should pay for this themselves.
    I live in Exeter and only use my pass to travel within the City. If I want to travel anywhere else I use my car or pay to use public transport. With our economy in its present state think we can no longer afford to finance pleasure trips for Buss pass holders.

  39. P Burnstead |

    I feel it a pity that current legislation does not allow for a small charge for each trip made, which many of your respondents seem willing to pay.

  40. jill hosford |

    Public transport is important to us all, if only to help minimise the number of journeys made by car. Sadly we all need to travel further these days to access shops; Drs. and dentists etc. Those who are unable to drive depend heavily on the buses and when they are unavailable taxis or friends.It is important to establish a reliable, regular system which is priced so that everyone may use it. However, i remain unconvinced that holiday makers should benefit from using their bus passes ( proposal 1) especially if by doing so it weakens the other bus services provided. I realise that cuts have to be made and I love the idea of your public consultation and really hope that you find a workable solution.