igo for half price as flat concessionary fares withdrawn

igo under 16 SmartcardSo not long after we blogged that GMPTE might escape the worst of funding cuts in the immediate future, the Manchester Evening News reports that planned budget cuts are likely to see the end of the flat concessionary fare. That’ll teach us. Why didn’t we see this coming? Partly because we weren’t looking in the right place – the relevant document being an Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) committee paper (PDF format). Partly due to the importance that politicians have previously given to the concept of flat fares for children. And partly because GMPTE have been pushing the igo smartcard so heavily. But it appears that budgetary pressures trump those concerns now.

Taking a look at some of the main budget points for the forthcoming year:

  • Concessionary bus fares change from 80p to half-price from 3rd April
  • Senior citizens will have to pay full fares on bus/train/tram before 0930 on weekdays from 3rd April
  • Bus station departure charges increased by 4.5% from 4th April
  • 15% headcount reduction at GMPTE, no payrises
  • GM bus travel concession scheme changed to match county boundary

Overall concessionary support will therefore fall from £75.1 million this year to £66.4 million next year. The switch to a half-fare concession is estimated to save £8.3 million per year, whilst £1 million will be saved by withdrawing the before-0930 concessions for senior citizens – who will still be able to travel for free after 0930 under the national scheme. There are predicted to be fewer concessionary journeys made next year: a combination of the age threshold for the national scheme rising from 60 to 66 years old, long-term downward trends in child journeys, and an updated assessment on cross-boundary journeys and new operators’ figures. The move to half-fare concessions will bring Greater Manchester in line with fares in many other parts of the country, though it should be noted that London offers free travel for under-16s at any time on buses and trams.

Where will this leave the igo smartcard for under-16 travel? The original plan was that the 80p flat fare would only be available on display of an igo pass, which would only be available to residents and scholars in Greater Manchester. We’d started making some discrete inquiries as to what ineligible children would pay, with half-fare tickets being the most likely outcome. Now that the concessionary fare is going to half-fare anyway, is there much point? One of the benefits of the igo was its possible confiscation in the event of bad behaviour, but will a half-fare still be available with other forms of ID? Or could it be that ineligible children won’t be offered *any* form of discount on bus journeys within Greater Manchester? All things considered, not great timing given that the originally advertised concessionary fare disappears before the igo card becomes compulsory on 16th May.

(We’d expect the price of the System One “any bus” 7 day child ticket to rise too, as its current price of £8 equates to ten single journeys, just enough to cover a daily commute to school. Half the price of an adult ticket would be £8.45, but that’s just no yardstick. Some bus operators also issue their own child weekly tickets which are priced below the cost of the “any bus” ticket and which may offer a better alternative to cash-strapped parents.)

Although GMPTE stands to shed 15% of its workforce, it will also be taking on more staff as part of the establishment of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority on 1st April. Extra staff will come from the GMTU, the ITA Policy Unit, the GM Joint Transport Unit and the GMUTC – a lot of acronyms that condense down to “being in charge of roads”. We only hope the transformation from GMPTE to TfGME won’t result in a costly rebranding exercise – think of all those bus stops and railway stations that would need to be updated!

The last item of interest to us is the change to the boundary of the bus travel concession scheme. We’re not sure what the full implications of this change will be: will it be a tidying-up back-office exercise that has no visible effect on passengers? Six “relatively small” areas will be removed from the scheme. We suspect these consist of extensions to Belmont, Edgworth, Edenfield/Bacup, Glossop/Hayfield/New Mills, Middlewood/Poynton/Wilmslow/Styal and Lymm/Hollins Green/Culcheth. Currently holders of System One tickets and passes can use bus services to reach these out-of-county destinations – we’ll be keeping an eye on whether these terms and conditions change.

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About James McCollom

Web geek and public transport user
This entry was posted in Buses, Politics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to igo for half price as flat concessionary fares withdrawn

  1. Travel Plus says:

    With the IGO cards you would pay 1/2 fare from the 3rd April or is it gonna be the 80p still.

    • James McCollom says:

      It’ll be half-price from 3rd April with an igo card – just a glorified under-16 identification – not sure how much if you don’t have an igo card after 16th May when they become compulsory.

  2. Watcherzero says:

    Though the IGO being a Smartcard (with chip) theoretically you could start paying using the card when a smartcard payment systems rolled out. On the rebranding I collared Councillor Ian Mcdonald (Chair of GMITA) to ask that very question at the LTP3 consultation launch event, he was pretty vague but gave the impression their wouldnt be a big rebranding excercise instead it would just be updated when signs/leaflets/etc.. were naturally renewed.

  3. Sotonbus says:

    I didn’t know these six zones outside GM existed.

    I knew that Stagecoach’s own tickets are valid to Hayfield on the 358 for example, but not that System One tickets can also be used. Could a bus/train Daysaver in that case be used to get the train to New Mills before switching to the bus for Hayfield?

  4. Eddie says:

    The ‘pockets’ outside GM were alaways an anomaly: it is no secret that that extensions particularly to the south of Manchester suited those with an influential Councillor in those areas that back in 1974 blocked the move into GM but wanted all the benefits of living in that bordering Metropolitan County, for example someone from Poynton which is under Macclesfield Council ,could correctly state ”I live IN Cheshire” yet contribute nothing to GM Counties’ scheme other than commute to work into it. ” Ahh get my 191 to ‘Town’ but I would be mortified if I had to live in it ” .How wonderful due to the paper exercise of ‘revenue apportionment’ by those up the road in ‘Town’ that us bona fide Cestrians can travel to ‘Picc’ with the same benefits and concessions as those who…. chortle chortle…have no option but to live there!

    • James McCollom says:

      Anomalies yes, but we note the fact that the PTE bus company operated many bus services to these outlying areas back in’t Olden Days 🙂

  5. We ran the story first on 26th January (a day before the MEN), then again here on 1 February http://insidethem60.journallocal.co.uk/2011/02/01/concessionary-peak-fares-to-vanish-under-transport-spending-cuts/

    GMITA is meeting on Friday to rubberstamp the budget cuts.

    • James McCollom says:

      You did indeed blog about it: we didn’t see the original story I’m afraid, rather hectic at MT Towers currently! Incidentally, I meant to credit our regular commenter Watcherzero who alerted us to the news and pointed us in the right direction after our blog on spending review impact on 25th Jan.

  6. Tyskieman says:

    Rumour has it the GMPTE may not provide a subsidy for child fares at all, but may insist half fares are charged on contracted services. They are would [perhaps wrongly] assume the commercial operators will offer the half fare anyway om other sevices, off their own bat. If they are assuming this it could backfire on them, for example I understand Transdev B&P / LU offer child fares at 60%, not 50% of the adult fare. Could this be the more typical child fare offered by operators in Greater Manchester?

    • Watcherzero says:

      They have budgeted to provide the child subsidy to operators, they arent just crossing their fingers and hoping operators will provide the discounted fares themselves.

  7. Pingback: Bus fares rise as concessionary fare changes come into effect | Manchester Transport

  8. reb. says:

    I feel as expressed that this card is just a glorified ID card that parents are paying for. I have contacted TFGM as they are now known, asking why so much info + photo needs to be held on their data base. Got the usual non commital response. Anyway if your child needs one apply by getting the school to validate it so that TFGM are not holding all that info on your child i.e photocopy of birth certificete etc.. Has anyone checked that the child protection laws are being adhered to with reference to holding all this data on under 16’s. I am not letting my kids have one on principal and encourage them to use the train. Although my 15 year old used the bus and was charged only 30p below adult fare and the driver didn’t give him a ticket to show he had paid!!!! So kids without an igo are paying nearly as much as an adult …. very sneaky tactics to get all under 16’s on the ID card route.

  9. Watcherzero says:

    Reb its to stop misbehaving kids, the passes can be remotley deactivated effectivley taking them away from the worst offenders. They also will eventually be able to store tickets on the card itself like the London Osyter card.

  10. reb. says:

    Oh come on watcherzero ! why do we tar every teenager in the UK with the same brush! Same old same old ….. BIG BROTHER is watching!!

  11. Watcherzero says:

    Hey I went to school on the bus everyday and the things we got up to!

  12. Pingback: Stagecoach loves February in Manchester – and other fare deals | Manchester Transport blog

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