Details of National Bus Travel Concession Scheme for Older and Disabled Persons: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

“A detailed account of public money spent on local bus companies. The main reason is I have a bus pass however when I get on a local bus for town 99% of the time I or you are charged to the terminus of that bus route”.


In relation to public money spent on local bus companies, as the purpose for your request appears to relate to the National Entitlement Card for free bus travel, I have provided the information relevant to the National Bus Travel Concession Scheme for Older and Disabled Persons.

For the financial year 2019/20, bus operators were funded approximately £215.5m. This funding comprised of concessionary travel reimbursement claims of around £208.3m and £7.2m for the COVID- 19 Support Grant (CSG) for the month of March 2020. For awareness, the CSG was introduced to bus operators at the beginning of the pandemic with the purpose of sustaining concessionary travel reimbursement at the levels prior to COVID.

For the financial years 2020/21 and 2021/22, to help the bus industry survive the public transport related consequences of the pandemic, the CSG offered to bus operators in terms of the National Bus Travel Concession Scheme, continues using agreed forecast levels based on pre-COVID concessionary travel reimbursement claims.

It may also be helpful to know that any large payment (over £25k) made to operators is published by the Scottish Government, this information can be found on our website.

In reference to your journey information potentially being recorded incorrectly, this is known as overstaging which is a concern for both cardholders and Transport Scotland. As part of our Counter Fraud Strategy, we log and monitor the level of complaints received by members of the public. We also work closely with the operators to ensure they are fully aware of any issues relating to the recording of incorrect farestages and to emphasise the importance of driver training and awareness.

When a National Entitlement Card is placed on the electronic ticket machine (ETM) it records a transaction which forms the basis for the operator’s reimbursement. We reimburse bus operators based on the data recorded in their ETMs, however please be assured we do not automatically pay operators based on these figures, claims are subject to a number of comprehensive compliance audit checks.

In order to ensure that bus operators are reimbursed correctly, it is essential that drivers accurately record the boarding and alighting ‘fare stage’ for each journey. However, a fare stage can consist of a number of stops along a specific route each incurring the same fare. In some cases, the ticketing equipment will subsequently record (and a ticket may show) the earliest boarding point and/or the furthest alighting point on the ‘fare stage’, rather than the actual destination. This may still accurately record the value for that journey. However, if the driver has recorded an alighting point greater than the end point of the ‘fare stage’ this is incorrect and results in overstaging.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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