Hidden benefits of travel concessions
What are the costs and benefits of a concessionary travel scheme? In his interesting article, Alf Young (Perspective, 6 October) stresses that free, or subsidised, point-of-use services have to be paid for somewhere.
Yes, but this is the narrow view. It is equally pertinent to ask what might be the costs of not having such arrangements. They are numerous and include a very serious reduction in the number of buses, and perhaps trains, available to the travelling public of all ages.
Many journeys that benefit people of working age might well be withdrawn if less “concessions” used them.
The result would be a shift to more car journeys with the resulting impact on congestion and the environment.
The health benefits of encouraging more pensioners to get out of their homes may be more difficult to quantify, but I suspect they are considerable.
It is almost certainly true that the economy – through spending in the shops – benefits from increased mobility among the elderly.
It is arguable that the concessionary scheme in Scotland is not ambitious enough. I read recently that London mayor Boris Johnson has ensured that all over-60s in the city have free access to off-peak travel on buses, the Underground, the rail network within the London orbit, and even some of the ferries along the Thames.
It would be ironic if the Scottish Government was made to look less radical than the Conservative London mayor, and even more ironic if he makes the Scottish Labour leadership, and those critics of “universality” here, look out of date and unimaginative on concessionary travel.
Shiel Court Glenrothes, Fife
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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