Friday, August 7, 2009

CPO Press Release on the threat to the free bus travel scheme for Britain's Pensioners

The Campaign For Public Ownership strongly opposes the means-testing of free bus travel for Britain’s old age pensioners, as recommended by the Local Government Association’s consultants’ report.

The reason why the scheme has proved so expensive is that, in the words of one official, privatised bus companies are ’creaming’ local authorities and routinely overcharging them for transporting pensioners. In the Daily Mail, Steve Doughty reports : “Many older people tell stories of using their bus passes for short journeys- but finding that drivers log them as tickets to the end of the route”.

Keith Adelman, the chief executive of bus privateer Go Ahead has complained that ‘pensioners cannot be given a blank cheque’. Adelman’s company- in common with other bus companies has received millions of pounds in public subsidies, and Adelman himself drew a salary of over £910,000 last year.

It‘s not been Britain’s hard-pressed pensioners who have been given a ‘blank cheque’ but our profiteering private bus operators, which have made a fortune from the British taxpayer since Margaret Thatcher's destruction of the publicly-owned National Bus Company.

The free bus scheme for old age pensioners would be far cheaper to administer, if instead of coughing up ever larger subsidies to profiteering private companies, all bus travel was brought back into public ownership- as it is in Belgium.

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