Concessionary Travel

The English National Concessionary Travel Scheme provides free off-peak bus travel for older and disabled people, offering independence and providing a lifeline to essential services. 

Local government spend over £1 billion per year to support more than 800 million concessionary bus journeys in the UK. As an industry leading expert, ITP support with the administration, management and delivery of several concessionary travel schemes, providing regular advice and support to authorities across England.

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Concessionary travel is a topic that, on the face of it, appears straightforward, but behind the scenes it requires a detailed understanding of bus networks and operations, and the DfT's guidance and calculator. Successful implementation demands partnership working across local authorities and transport operators. 

Our team is highly regarded for its open, assured and practical approach, as well as a detailed understanding of the complexities of the subject. We advise on all aspects of concessionary travel schemes, from administering schemes and calculating reimbursement rates to representing local authorities in appeals. 


  • Develop, manage, and review concessionary travel schemes and reimbursement systems.
  • Review and define operator reimbursement criteria, calculating reimbursement rates and additional costs. 
  • Process and audit operator payment claims utilising multiple data sources to validate.
  • Calculate implications of differing scenarios.
  • Lead negotiations over Marginal Capacity Cost rates and Peak Vehicle Requirement claims.
  • Providing advice and assistance in relation to appeals and fixed deals.

Wiltshire concessionary travel scheme

ITP has been working with Wiltshire Council since 2013, administrating and managing their concessionary travel scheme, and providing expert advice on specific issues.

Our Concessionary Transport Analysis System collects and processes operator data in one place, providing a valuable tool for identifying patronage and data anomalies, estimating reimbursement, forecasting, scenario testing, and calculating financial implications. We use the system to examine historic data trends to validate operator claims and authorise for payment.

We have also undertaken a number of specific projects for Wiltshire Council, including modelling the financial and wider impacts of moving from a 24/7 scheme to the statutory start and end times, along with subsequent detailed analysis of the change. In addition, we negotiated a Peak Vehicle Requirements claim using our proven three-test model, reducing the original claim significantly.

Wiltshire Concessionary Fares4
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Brighton and Hove concessionary travel scheme

ITP has been administering and managing Brighton and Hove City Council’s concessionary travel scheme since 2013. We have developed our own model which incorporates tailor-made operator claim forms and automatically calculates reimbursement, advanced payments and reconciliation payments. This model assesses the operator data, validating outputs against historic trends and HOPS data on a route by route basis, immediately flagging up discrepancies for action, including farestage set-ups.  

We work with the authority and operators to calculate reimbursement rates and parameters each year, based around the DfT guidance and associated calculator. Considering local network data, patronage projections, changes in services, fare increases and service characteristics, we are able to advise the authority on alternative reimbursement methodologies which have included multi-year fixed deals. We have recently been commissioned to continue to support Brighton and Hove City Council until 2024.

Derbyshire and Derby City concessionary travel scheme

Since 2014, ITP has been determining and implementing appropriate operator reimbursement arrangements for the Derbyshire and Derby City concessionary travel scheme.

As well as data collection, analysis and negotiations, we have supported the councils with the negotiation of Peak Vehicle Requirement claims and a recent operator appeal to the Secretary of State. The case drew on DfT guidance and our own bespoke methodology to review the appeal, which led to a settlement which was significantly lower than the original claim. Separately, we provided expert technical advice to the two councils for legal actions in the Crown Court, advised on reimbursement mechanisms and ticketing systems, and supported the councils in their legal counsels.

As an expansion to our work, we were commissioned to review the young persons' "b_line" concessionary travel scheme, which included financial modelling of different options, negotiations with operators, and preparation of new scheme documents.

Derbyshire Conessionary Fares
Nick Ayland

Appeals decision maker

ITP Director, Dr Nick Ayland, acted as an appeal decision maker on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport, working closely with economists and legal advisers from the Department for Transport (DfT), to determine bus operator appeals against the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme. He provided an independent assessment of appropriate levels of reimbursement in accordance with the latest research and DfT guidance. 

Nick has also been appointed jointly by a local authority and bus operator to undertake an independent expert review on reimbursement. As one of only a handful of appeal decision makers, Nick is one of the foremost experts in the field of concessionary travel.