Birmingham Green MP, Roger Godsiff has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond, urging him to think again about the removal of the Coach Concessionary Travel Scheme which provides half price coach travel for disabled people and those over 60 in England and Wales. The scheme is scheduled for withdrawal at the end of October.
Mr Godsiff said: “I have a number of concerns about the plans to scrap this scheme but what concerns me most is that the Department has yet to conduct an impact assessment of the schemes removal. Undoubtedly, the removal of this scheme will have an impact on the viability of other services and represent an immediate rise in the cost of living of those who currently make use of it. More fundamentally, I don’t think it is sufficient just to allow ‘the market’ to provide a solution as business’s, quite rightly, pay regard to the bottom line only and not any form of social provision. There is no doubt, as history tells us, that services will contract”.
On a more broader point Roger Godsiff went onto say: “How can your Department justify support for High Speed 2 (HS2) London to Birmingham, cost £44billion, with a reported £17 billion taxpayer subsidy to cover ticket price shortfalls with the cost of scraping this scheme £20 million?
National Express, who obviously have a vested interest in the scheme continuing, have estimated that 400,000 passenger journeys which begin or end in Birmingham are made using the half price concessionary fare and that 400,000 is equivalent to over 20% of all journeys which begin or end in Birmingham.
In 2010, over 3 million journeys were made by passengers using the scheme on National Express coaches alone. The equivalent scheme in Scotland – which provides free, not half price, coach travel for disabled people and those over 60 – remains in place.