In my blog of 10 June 2008, I commented on the introduction of free swimming in the UK for over-60s. Then I asked whether there had been any modelling of the likely effects; no answer yet! But the scheme has started, and the swimming pool in Exeter (Pyramids) has adopted an interesting policy to restrict the take up. It is a sort of rationing. The management has to record the number of "free" users. There is also a fear that, as Devon is a holiday destination, there will be significant numbers of users from outside the city and county during the holidays. (This is a genuine fear, as the take-up of free bus travel for the over 60s has been considerable in the holiday areas of the UK.)
So, the pool has a policy that over-60s must register and pay a small fee (£2) for a card; once this has been done, then swimming at that pool is free. Using the swipe card allows a record to be kept of usage. The fee is very small (less than the price of one entry to the swimming pool) but I suspect that the psychology of having to pay even such a small fee will be enough to deter some holiday-makers. A very subtle way of reducing demand, generating a small bit of profit on the scheme, and maintaining records.