Dear Lothian Buses PLC,
This is a request for information submitted in accordance with and
under the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act
Scotland-wide free bus travel started on 1 April 2006 and allows
anyone aged 60 and over, and eligible disabled people, to travel
free on both local registered services and long-distance bus
services within Scotland, without any peak-time restrictions.
Recently, Lothian Buses fitted out its fleet with new ticket
machines. This means that travel passes must now be scanned in a
similar way to those using a ridacard.
I would like to know during the month of July 2010, on how many
occasions were travel passes allowing old people and disabled
people free bus travel used on Lothian Buses services.
I look forward to hearing from you in due course.
Thank you for your email. Our Customer Services Department will attend to your comments and issue you with a full reply, if required. No reply will be given to emails deemed inappropriate or abusive.
55 Annandale Street
0131 554 4494
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Mr. Michael Traill
mailto:[FOI #43499 email]
Dear Mr. Traill,
Freedom Of Information (Scotland) Act - Information Request
I refer to your e-mail of 3rd August. In that e-mail you make a Freedom
Of Information request in the following terms,
"Freedom of Information request - Old age bus travel - July 2010
Recently, Lothian Buses fitted out its fleet with new ticket machines.
This means that travel passes must now be scanned in a similar way to
those using a ridacard.
I would like to know during the month of July 2010, on how many occasions
were travel passes allowing old people and disabled people free bus travel
used on Lothian Buses services."
Having considered your request and the provisions of the Act, I must
advise you that I am refusing your request for the above information.
I consider such information to be exempt under the terms of Section 33
Commercial interests and the economy which says at sub-section (1) (b) -
"Information is exempt information if - (b) its disclosure under this Act
would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial
interests of any person (including, without prejudice to that generality,
a Scottish public authority)."
Under Section 16 of the Act, this represents a refusal notice in relation
to the information requested. In accordance with that section I am
required to advise you if Lothian Buses holds the information you have
requested, states that Lothian Buses is claiming an exemption and,
specifies the exemption or exemptions which apply and states, if
necessary, why the exemption applies.
Lothian Buses does hold the information you have requested. Lothian Buses
claims an exemption in respect of that information, namely the exemption
provided for in Section 33 of the Act, the relevant part of which is set
The exemption provided for in Section 33 is not an absolute exemption. My
reason for claiming it in this case is as follows.
The starting point is that there is a public interest in providing the
information you have requested. Against that must be set the fact that
Lothian Buses is a publicly-owned business which operates profitably in
the competitive and deregulated market for local bus services and, since
the Company's shares are wholly owned by the various local authorities in
the Lothians, there is a wider public interest in the Company operating
successfully. Lothian Buses is the only publicly owned business in
Scotland which operates in this competitive market. The Company's
continued success and, as a consequence, its ability to generate income in
the form of dividend payments to its shareholders and to sustain a high
level of investment in both vehicles and other infrastructure is
critically dependent on its competitive position not being undermined.
The information you have requested is not just a statistical headcount of
concessionary journeys. Since operators are reimbursed for the carriage
of passengers eligible for "free" concessionary travel by the national
transport agency, Transport Scotland, it also serves as a detailed
indicator of a significant part of the Company's revenue.
Placing such commercially sensitive information in the public domain would
most definitely prejudice the ability of Lothian Buses to compete
effectively with its competitors, none of whom is subject to the
provisions of the Act. Put shortly, there cannot be a competitive "level
playing field" if Lothian Buses is obliged to provide this commercially
sensitive revenue related information while there is no mechanism whereby
equivalent information in respect of other bus operators in Scotland can
be made available to Lothian Buses.
On balance, I believe that the public interest in safeguarding the ability
of Lothian Buses to compete effectively with its privately owned
competitors outweighs the public interest in providing the information you
If you are dissatisfied with how we have responded to your request for
information and/or the information that we have provided, you can request
that Lothian Buses carry out a review. This will take a maximum of 20
working days. If you would like to do this, please contact Norman
Strachan, Finance Director, at the address below or e-mail:
[email address]. Please note that any request for review
must be made in writing or other form having permanency, include a name
and address for correspondence and be made within 40 working days of 30th
If after this review you are still dissatisfied, you have the right of
appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner. The Scottish Information
Commission can be contacted as follows:
Enquiries line - telephone 01334 464 610
Enquiries line - email [email address]
Address Kinburn Castle, Doubledykes
Road, St Andrews KY16 9DS
Further information on freedom of information can be obtained from the
Scottish Information Commission's website: www.itspublicknowledge.info.
55 Annandale Street
1. mailto:[FOI #43499 email]
2. mailto:[email address]
3. mailto:[email address]
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