Is it time to scrap ENTCS completely?

Discussion in 'Buses & Coaches' started by Qwerty133, 9 Feb 2020.

  1. RT4038

    RT4038 Member

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    I am unsure that encouraging the elderly to live in rural communities is a good idea, bearing in mind that the cost of delivering almost any kind of service to these people is going to be more expensive per head than that of an urban dweller, and therefore likely to be subsidised by the urban dwellers for the lifestyle choice of the fortunate few.

    Not sure if you've been following this and other recent threads on this subject, but (a) the level of fares for fare payers is higher due to the ENCTS scheme having to be subsidised by the other passengers in the bus [due to reimbursement rates being linked to average ordinary fares] and (b) subsidies for provision of socially necessary but uneconomic services have been decimated by Local Auithorities plundering this budget to pay for the ENCTS scheme. Both could be considered detriment. Whether other undesirable detriment would occur should the ENCTS scheme be modified or withdrawn is another matter!
     
  2. duncombec

    duncombec Member

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    But it is: by way of higher fares.
     
  3. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Only because the reimbursement mechanism is set up wrong. The single fare never made sense for this purpose, as on many networks hardly anyone ever pays it.
     
  4. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

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    This is exactly the point.

    I don't think this is a case of being nasty to pensioners or ignoring the potential health benefits of removing isolation etc.

    However, it is clear that ENCTS is having a detrimental effect on bus services for two main reasons.
    1. The formula is often applied (as was explained in Cumbria) as being a percentage of the single fare and that has undoubtedly pushed up single fares for casual passengers (rather than season ticket holders).
    2. As we've now established that the funding is not discrete but it is a statutory requirement so ENCTS HAS to be paid for whilst subsidising socially necessary services is not
    ENCTS should be for the purposes of travelling on the weekly minibus service or popping into town for your shopping, going to the local day centre, or heading to the Hospital to have your annual colonoscopy.... I can fully see the logic and benefit of that and it should be protected (but funded correctly).

    I don't understand why people believe they should be entitled to travel to the seaside or to Wordsworth's Cottage for leisure purposes when they don't live locally, whilst we are simultaneously cutting evening and Sunday services and so depriving local workers and younger people the ability to travel AT ALL. That seems perverse.
     
  5. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    But how do you do that when the local amenities are not necessarily the ones in your administrative area or within a specific radius of home? I'd imagine that there are plenty of people in, say, the outer northern or southern reaches of Merseyside where their nearest properly sized town/city (and therefore supermarket, hospital etc) is Chester or Ormskirk, yet if they got a Merseyside pass that would be useless for their purposes.

    Similarly, someone from Maghull gets free travel into Liverpool, yet someone just a couple of miles north doesn't, even though both probably have an equal desire to go there.

    It's just easier to accept a bit of "collateral damage" from people using a pass on holiday or the very odd person who does Lands End to John O'Groats on one just to prove they can. Some seem to speak as if every other passholder is doing this, but in reality only the odd person is doing it and most of them will only do something like that once.

    There is a problem with some authorities containing large tourist destinations having to pay out a disproportionate amount, but this would be solved by having the home, not host, authority pay for all of it.
     
  6. markymark2000

    markymark2000 Member

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    Purely for this argument, I want to say that Saltney (near Chester) is in Flintshire but the closest town centre and hospital is Chester which is in Cheshire West. Different council area and different country!

    Frodsham is in Cheshire West however the closest hospital and town centre is Runcorn which is in Halton.


    I don't think we can confine people to the specific issuing on this basis.
     
  7. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

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    Because as I said before, it would be for the home LA and travel allowed only into neighbouring LAs. Clearly it would be ridiculous for someone in Saltash not to be able to go to Plymouth.

    Even if this is a problem of which LA pays, it still doesn't get away from the issue of funding journeys that are nothing near essential. Going back to our notional Hartlepool pensioners... even if Hartlepool council are now on the hook for paying for their day out from Keswick to Grasmere to Bowness and back to Keswick, how is that funded? It's unlikely that there's much reciprocal revenue coming from other LAs, so do Hartlepool cough up and find the money from elsewhere on stretched budgets, or do they then reduce their reimbursement and so the burden is further transferred onto farepaying passengers and/or operators reduce their services further.

    It is clear that ENCTS has distorted things and whilst it may seem some trifling small amount, in Cumbria, that impact could be anywhere between £0.5m and £1m; funds that could have protected many marginal services.
     
  8. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    But even that might be unfair on some. Some LAs are large, some are very small. If you had a Lancashire pass you'd potentially get a vast swathe of Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cumbria etc. But if you lived in a smaller authority that boundaried fewer others, you'd get next to nothing.
     
  9. markymark2000

    markymark2000 Member

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    Neighboring LAs wouldn't work either for the record because then you are expecting bus drivers to know all of the valid passes from around the neighboring LAs to try and know what is and isn't valid.

    As Bletchleyite says, if you manage to get a decent areas pass, you can get around half of the UK as it is.

    Imagine getting a TFGM pass, that then entitles you to TFGM, Cheshire East, Warrington, Merseyside, Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
     
  10. carlberry

    carlberry Established Member

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    The different country issue is already there so, after the journey into Chester any journey onwards have to be paid.
     
  11. markymark2000

    markymark2000 Member

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    I know that exists but if you contain it to the issuing authority as was proposed, that wouldn't be allowed.
     
  12. carlberry

    carlberry Established Member

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    You wouldn't be allowed to pay? The issue is that for people living near the English/Welsh border can get a fairly restricted pass and the idea of a pass available across adjoining authorities could appeal to them more than the current one does.
     
  13. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

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    Yes, get all that and by virtue of that, it would still allow some tourism to persist. That's unavoidable. Knowing validity of passes should not be difficult ....You could even print it on the pass!!

    However, the rules at the moment say that Gerald and Maureen from Hartlepool can cheerfully travel around the Lakes for fun. Meanwhile, we have evening services have been lost. We hear all the arguments about how it affects pensioners - social mobility and keeping them from driving, and they're all valid. Yet we are seeing a big impact on other groups. Surely that can't be right? Shouldn't kids be able to safely get a bus home in the evening? Shouldn't people whose job finishes at 7pm be able to get home?
     
  14. markymark2000

    markymark2000 Member

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    I don't think that the tourism side is affecting it too much. It's minimal really. It probably doesn't even make up 5% of trips made on concessionary passes. If you are going to restrict the pass use, restrict the timings back to 9pm and look to introduce small fees to admin of the card or something.
     
  15. neilmc

    neilmc Member

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    I don't at all mind old couples from Hartlepool riding around on my county's buses. They can hardly get over from Hartlepool on a daily basis so they are spending money in other areas during their stay. Stagecoach produce a very nice leaflet with tourist routes and maps and suggested places to visit so the main tourist routes can afford a decent service bases on ENCTS returns PLUS whatever non-pensioners are prepared to pay whereas anywhere else in Cumbria that's not Carlisle and not touristy has scraps if anything. Cumbria HAS to keep tourists happy or the county will die and what small amounts are spent on subsidising out-of -county ENCTS travel would be a pittance compared to the disaster for jobs and business rates revenue if, for example, Center Parcs closed down.

    Fortunately Cumbrians tend to be sensible people and I don't get to hear the kind of anti-tourist ignorance you can get in, say, Cornwall.
    Cumbria CC need to think what communities are of a size whereby a better bus service could be provided with SOME subsidy rather than say there's no money in the pot and CERTAINLY don't ever try to pin the blame for transport inadequacy on ENCTS and its tourists.
     
  16. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

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    5% is the difference in ENCTS journeys per capita between Cumbria and Lancashire - there is a higher average age in Cumbria but bus service provision has been markedly reduced so it probably evens out, so is the 5% difference because of tourism.... well, if you look at the services in the Lakes, it would seem so. If it's 5% of trips, it may not be 5% of the cost of the scheme (which is not adequately costed).

    In Cumbria, that equates to somewhere around £500k or about 25% of the supported services that were axed when Cumbria removed all bus support.

    You seem to be resolutely and implacably resisting the idea that the benefits of ENCTS for your demographic are only positive, and that there are no negative ramifications for any other group of people. That simply isn't true as we've seen bus fares for fare payers increase and subsidised services axed.

    The network of bus services in the Lakes is largely what it was before ENCTS. The tourist pound was always taken. The bus guide has been produced in various forms since 1992 (at least).
     
  17. Geordie driver

    Geordie driver Member

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    The negative ramifications are due to the way the system is currently implemented, the govt. could change this should they wish?

    Pre dereg. every local authority had their own system, at least where I worked, some gave out a few quid in plastic tokens, 15 quid a year IIRC, some allowed travel into other areas ( Blyth Valley could go into Tyne had Wear for example) yet you couldn't use a Tyne and Wear pass to go into Blyth Valley. Current system is much better IMHO.
     
  18. neilmc

    neilmc Member

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    I do think that the ramifications of ENCTS are overwhelmingly positive (I also thought this before I joined the demographic which benefits). I can see that a local authority may not be happy in that they don't choose who gets the subsidy, the passengers choose this by boarding buses which take them where they want to go, and also that there is a disconnect in touristy areas as pensioners who actually live there will probably be taking fewer out-of-county journeys than incoming tourists. There may be occasions when a weary worker staggers out of his place of employment only to see his local bus home whizz past chock full of freeloading tourists with flat caps and blue perms, but I'm not seeing this happening widely either.

    Any suggestions I've seen for changing it would be unwieldy and bureaucratic and disadvantage the passholders, which of course is the intention. The current scheme is wonderfully simple for the passholder - ENCTS is free on weekdays 09:30-23:00 and all day at weekends, anywhere in England. There is still the issue of what exactly is a local bus, who is entitled to any "add ons" (trams, early/late extensions, etc), and local scams which pretend to be offering "added amenities" which really aren't, but 99% of the time you can simply see a bus and get on it for free. And of course bus travel (or train travel) can't be likened to selling tins of beans of which there is a limited physical product - most public transport consists of moving air around with a very variable intake of people taking up the seats.

    I echo Geordie driver - when I was a busman (many years ago) the city area offered passes but adjoining shire counties, who were notorious for meanness, seemed to think they could get away with a handful of tokens. Hopefully these days are gone for ever.
     
  19. richw

    richw Established Member

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    not so much whizzing past, but in Newquay I notice most of the tour coach drivers take their rest day either Tuesday or Wednesday each week. Results in the service buses to more scenic places carrying a disproportionate high number of tourist pensioners than the rest of the week. The stop outside the Daishs group hotel and also the Shearings contract hotel can often see a queue on 40+ waiting for the 87 to Truro via perranporth, or A5 to padstow along the coast
     
  20. mmh

    mmh Established Member

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    It's not ENCTS of course, but interestingly Wales appears to have gone in the opposite direction - passes are no longer issued by local authorities but centrally by Transport For Wales. I don't know how funding works, whether there's some sort of charge re-allocation behind the scenes. It would be interesting to find out, I must try! I'd be very surprised if they were recording use of passes by the home authority of the user though, given just issuing the new cards has been a struggle for them!

    This is an excellent point which many seem to overlook.

    My own immediate experience tallies exactly. During the aforementioned switch from local to centrally issued passes, my mother and father's council passes expired before they'd received the new ones, so had just over a month without. My father drives, my mother has given up. Journeys she would have made by bus, e.g. shopping, visiting friends etc - not sitting on a bus all day as some seem to picture (although if she wanted to do that, good luck to her!) - didn't stop, they just became journeys by car. With my father taking her, returning home and waiting to be called to pick her up again. Each "free" bus fare removed didn't result in one extra car journey, but two.

    And the same of course happens in situations where someone, for example, might get a lift to a railway station rather than a bus.
     
  21. richard13

    richard13 Member

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    In my personal case we are looking to downsize from the rural family home and move nearer to public transport as pensions cut in. I am expecting to use my ENCTS pass for some excursions rather than the car, but that will depend on the bus network available. We still have 2 cars, but my daughter now self drives one of them, rather than using dad's taxi, so dropping to one car may well happen. Does the ENCTS help - For us it will be nice to have, but not essential.

    I have been considering the ENCTS scheme along the coast locally and come up with some mixed results:

    Bournemouth / Poole - a big urban area with a population average for England and good bus services. The International Schools and Uni provide extra passengers at all hours. Tourism is a small proportion and summer bus increases are as much for the locals as visitors. The ENCTS probably works as planned.

    Weymouth - a deprived poor isolated seaside resort with a high proportion of elderly. Its main income is lower cost holidays. The local bus service is up to every 12 mins from 5 am to midnight. There is a large summer increase in frequencies, all night and tourist special routes with the ENCTS available on everything. The ENCTS supports the resident elderly (needed) and supports the elderly sector of the tourism industry (probably also necessary). I think financially it must balance out OK in a round about way.

    Bridport - a small historic town just in from the coast with no big town in sight. It has a high elderly population, but fairly prosperous and supports a large rural area with retail and other services. It has 2 trunk main road inter-urban bus routes going east west. These have summer increases plus evenings and Sundays and the traffic congestion - 1hr40 becomes 2hr05 (ouch). The summer services still overload with elderly tourists riding scenic routes. The ENCTS encourages travel, but does not pay enough to put on yet more journeys (The journeys are less than they used to be). Locally there is almost no bus service and the supermarket is only served Wed and Sat. Last time I visited Morrisons there were 8 mini buses parked up belonging to Community Transport groups with the drivers on meal break. These provide the local service some on scheduled runs and others more by request. The ENCTS has not been valid on any of these and therefore the scheme is of little use to most residents. However recently the new Dorset Unitary Authority has made the passes available on the scheduled runs, but I suspect this is more window dressing by the new council, than of much value or cost. ENCTS here is probably a mixed blessing and of limited use.

    Somerset - Has a sparse un-subsidised bus network used by many elderly. The ENCTS has the effect of increasing single fares well above normal levels. A network day ticket is now £13, (Devon is £8:30). The ENCTS is here a nuisance to the general public, but worth while for the elderly beneficiaries.
     
  22. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    This is a very illuminating post. We're told that we have to pay eye-watering fares because of the paltry reimbursements paid to companies for bus pass holders, yet here we have an area where the reimbursement to the company is comparatively generous, yet the bus company still manages to charge extortionate fares !

    It's interesting that pensioners doing touristy things are being frowned upon on here, yet when I was stung for the full fare from Windermere to Coniston, I was also doing a touristy thing.

    Could it be that areas with a greater proportion of bus pass holders on holiday, get a greater proportion of paying passengers on holiday as well !
     
  23. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    This thread reminded me of this book that I was given:

    BPB001.jpg

    It shows how us oldies can take leisurely rides without clogging up the roads with hesitant driving styles or increasing CO2*.

    * Virtually no conttribution to climate change from a few extra leisure passengers travelling on service buses.
     
  24. L401CJF

    L401CJF Member

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    Its the same here, Merseyside.
     
  25. mmh

    mmh Established Member

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    The answer to the junkie problem is to, well, do something about the junkie problem. Taking their bus passes off them isn't going to stop them being a junkie.
     
  26. Typhoon

    Typhoon Member

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    Touristy things like staying in hotels and guest houses during the off season because there are no noisy kids, eating in restaurants and cafes, buying souvenirs for friends and family, topping up with all the things they forgot to bring, and doubtless a few other things I've forgotten all of which contribute to the local economy.

    I think you may well be right. And I would have thought that holiday destinations in this country would want to encourage every visitor they can lay their hands on.
     
  27. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

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    You don't understand.... the ENCTS remuneration is based upon the cost of the single fare. The reason why the bus company charges "extortionate" single fares is because of ENCTS not despite it.

    Again, you're missing the point. It's not about being anti-tourist.

    You're enjoying a service that YOU have paid for. Our notional Hartlepool tourists are enjoying a service that they HAVEN'T paid for.

    Now that's fine if they scheme was adequately financed but it's not and hasn't been since 2011 when the funding method was changed. So you have pensioners enjoying a jolly (which I don't fundamentally object to and can see the wider social benefits) but at the same time, bus services are being withdrawn because of austerity cuts that impact ALL passengers.

    I'll ask it again - should we allow services to be withdrawn that impact ALL demographics whilst one demographic gets free travel. That seems rather unfair.

    This is exactly the point I've been making. If people think this doesn't happen, they're in denial.

    No, it's more the weary worker who stumbles out and either a) has to pay a higher single fare because of ENCTS reimbursement formula or simply because the reimbursement for ENCTS is so low (* dependant on the LA) or b) has to clamber into the car they've bought because their bus at 1900 has been axed as the subsidy has been cut.

    Most people appreciate the social benefits that ENCTS brings to older people. The issue is the funding of the scheme which has changed since its introduction. You either amend the funding (which is what I'm sure everyone except the government would prefer) or amend the scheme.

    What you don't do is disadvantage workers or kids or anyone else because of one other group of people. However, that is what is happening.
     
  28. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Indeed. Every year, me and the family get the bus from Penzance to Moushole. Two of us on bus passes, two (or three) paying full fare to get to one of the most picturesque villages in the country. On it's way, the same bus provides a vital link to residential areas on the outskirts of Penzance.
     
    Last edited: 15 Feb 2020 at 20:16
  29. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    I'm sorry, but if the single fare is hefty, as in the Cumbrian case, then the reimbursement will be proportionately large.

    And how do you know that your notional Hartlepool tourists haven't paid ? They might have fewer paying tourists than Cornwall, but they will also have fewer bus pass tourists than Cornwall.

    As Cumbria shows, it's not inevitable that bus pass trips will be under-remunerated. If there's a problem, it's not with the bus passes.
     
  30. mmh

    mmh Established Member

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    I'll freely admit I don't know the ins and outs of how bus passes are funded, but I also know my sympathy for the idea that high fares aren't the fault of bus companies but pensioners using buses is very limited by my own experience.

    In my local area, we have two operators. Arriva Buses Wales, a subsidiary of a massive multi-national conglomerate, and Llew Jones, a small coach business from Llanrwst. Arriva's record is to whack up fares, remove return fares, buy out competition to get rid of them and announce routes are unprofitable and bin them with no notice. Llew Jones on the other hand can somehow run buses with fares half the price of Arriva. On the parts of their routes where they parallel Arriva routes people actively go out of the way to use them rather than Arriva.

    My heart isn't bleeding very much for these poor hard done by big bus company monopolies.
     

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