Leicestershire is a region where many routes have a mix of urban and rural running, and could bizarrely see concessionary fares reimbursement lower than elsewhere because of it. Kinchbus Alexander Dennis Enviro200 MMC 154 (YX20 OHJ) drops off passengers at Kegworth Church, Leicestershire, in October 2023, working the 13:00 Derby to Leicester Skylink service via East Midlands Airport.

Concessionary fares payment is a boring subject, but it’s vital income for bus operators and an important lifeline for the elderly and disabled passengers who get unlimited free travel, with time restrictions in some areas. Cheaper fares for the elderly go back to the 1930s, and post-war more areas offered the concession, but schemes varied from free travel, half fare, travel tokens or no scheme at all.

This all changed in April 2008, when prime minister Gordon Brown, fearing he was going lose the next election, needed to bribe elderly voters to vote Labour. A national free travel scheme for pensioners was his answer. Like all things done in a rush, and being a political fix, there was no pre-planning. It was introduced with certain crucial items to be sorted later, one of which was to be a smartcard so that journey length could be properly measured. That never happened. Ever since, bus operators have known the boarding point of a concessionary journey, but don’t know the end point for fare calculations.

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