Concessionary fares policy

Exploring the impact of concessionary fares policy in the UK.

Project details

Full project title: Exploring the impact of concessionary fares policy in the UK

Sponsor: Great Western Research and Stagecoach Devon

Research student: Geoff Andrews

Supervisory team: Professor Graham Parkhurst, Professor Jon Shaw (Centre for Sustainable Transport, University of Plymouth) and Dr Yusak Susilo

Start date: October 2008

Finish date: September 2011

Research briefing sheet: Download the briefing sheet document (PDF)

Project summary

Jointly funded by Stagecoach Devon and the University of the West of England, this research is interested in the UK government's concessionary fares policy for England, one of its initiatives to tackle social exclusion amongst the elderly population. The scheme, in place since April 2008 entitles those over 60 years of age to free bus travel after 09:30 weekdays as well as all day at weekends. It has been the subject of much media attention due to a large increase in demand resulting in reports of localised overcrowding and budget deficits within local authorities.

The overarching aim of the research is to encourage a shift from the current top-down approach to analysing concessionary fares policy - in other words concentrating on the effects of the pass itself; towards a bottom-up approach which seeks to understand the behavioural and perceptual factors that influence the changes in levels of bus patronage as a result of the pass.

To this end, the following research questions are proposed, which will be subject to change as them research progresses.

  1. To what extent has the concessionary fares policy's stated aim of tackling social exclusion been successful?
  2. Can some the key assumptions underlying the scheme be challenged? Could include questions such as the suitability of using a free pass to tackle social exclusion and the assumption that the over 60s couldn't have afforded bus travel prior to the scheme.
  3. What economic and psychological theories could give a better insight into the individual's behavioural response to the intervention of a free pass?
  4. Is using age as a basis for segmentation the most effective approach? Could segmentation by other variables such as income or mobility levels be considered to better target those who are socially excluded?

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