Blog Homepage

This Blog provides free and impartial information/advice on bus passes for older people and disabled people in the UK, and also highlights other issues affecting older people and disabled people.

The information and advice on bus passes comes under various names,including Freedom passes, NOW cards, Metro Passes.We include the schemes which fall under the “English National Concession Travel Scheme” (ENCTS), The Welsh Government Concessionary Travel scheme, The National Entitlement Card in Scotland, and The Senior SmartPass in Northern Ireland.
Our site is set up to help you find where to apply for a bus passwhen you can get a bus pass, what you need to qualify for a Disabled Pass, what times of day bus passes can be used (not the same for all areas of the UK), using a bus pass in London  and other issues.  We welcome your comments and queries,  forms appear on each page to enable you to do that.

We also give information on schemes which offer similar benefits aimed at those aged 60 and over who haven’t yet reached the minimum qualifying age – e.g. in Merseyside and London, and include information on benefits where they are offered in various counties in addition to the bus pass benefits of the national schemes, e.g train, tube, ferry services, and travel times allowed outside the off peak time limitations.  In focusing on bus pass and other issues affecting Pensioners and Disabled people we draw on reports in newspapers, TV and other

Ted and Fred discuss paying for care issues

media, plus issues which concern our website visitors and ourselves.  These can be found in our ‘Recent Posts’ area on the Right hand side of each page.

We do need to mention that we aren’t an official site for the issue of bus passes – our aim is to give useful information on bus passes.

58 thoughts on “Blog Homepage

  1. Fred Robson

    Your Bedfordshire bus pass will cover use on local bus journeys throughout England. These are typically services for which bus stops are dotted around, and don’t require prior booking. As you say National Express, and also Megabus and others which are typically longer distance journeys. (Some local bus services can be longer journeys, but if you want to use your bus pass for a longer journey you would have to work out a combination of local buses.) You can get timetable/route information via this page


    Hello. I am eager to explore England and need to know how I can utilise my pensioner bus pass (for which I am very grateful) issued by the Bedford Borough Council. I think it is not valid for National Express. Any advice really appreciated. Thank you..

  3. Fred Robson

    Sorry but if you have a bus pass issued in Manchester (looks like this:) Manchester Bus Passthat has a red rose symbol on it you are entitled to use it on bus services throughout England.

    The Manchester website says:
    “National travel pass for residents of Greater Manchester

    The Concessionary Bus Travel Act states that everyone of state pensionable age and over in England can get free off-peak travel on all local buses anywhere in England.”

  4. marian coe

    you are saying that mersyside ratepayers pay for your bus pass at 60 but the higher age bus passes can travel anywhere in England ,this isn’t true ,my bus pass only quailfys me to travel in the greater Manchester area ,if I go over any boundaries I have to pay full fare. I am 72 year old pensioner and while travelling anywhere out of the greater Manchester area ihave to pay full fare xxxxx

  5. Fred Robson

    If you are resident in a London Borough you should apply for a Freedom Pass:
    “You can travel free at any time using your Freedom Pass on:
    Buses in London showing the red roundel
    Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and TfL Rail – and take up to four under-11s with you for free
    You can also travel free at any time on some National Rail services in London:”

    Go to this page for more info and how to apply:

    You mention that you are ‘nearly 65’ – I did a check from the page above on a birth date of 10th May 1952 and it confirmed that at that age an applicant is eligible now.

    AsS you qualify by age it will be easier to apply on age grounds, not on disability.


    I am nearly 65, disabled and have a disability bus pass and also retired BR staff pass – I cannot get BR privilege ticket rate on London Underground any more, as they say I have to get an Oyster – yet website say for London residents, I can travel on London buses free – so why can’t I get concessions on the underground?

  7. Nadya

    Can i use disabled buss pass with red rose on. From birmingham to bristol on the train im not sure if i can please yours thankfully nadya

  8. Fred Robson

    It might not take away your ire, but the Merseyside passes are only useable in Merseyside, unlike the passes available at the higher age which are useable throughout England. The theory is that the ratepayers of Merseyside have decided to pay for the earlier passes, and it is much the same in Scotland & Wales. (But please don’t shoot the messenger – I didn’t think this situation up !)

  9. YPS

    I think that it is disgusting that there is no parity across the country for the over 60’s travel pass. My friend lives 6 miles from me but she comes under merseyside and got a free travel pass as she has just turned 60 but because i live in Lancashire I have to wait until i am 66. Surely this is wrong it should be like the state pension and all councils should offer the same concessions.

    So annoying!!

  10. admin Post author

    Congratulations ! Are you having a bus pass celebration party ?

    Assuming your bus pass has a red rose symbol on it, you can use it anywhere in England on local bus services, including London.

  11. John Hunter

    I have just today 29/7/2016 received my bus pass and not very sure where in England I can travel also is it valid for train journeys (Surrey/Hampshire )

  12. mary sharp

    My great grandson has high end spectrum autism and has been issued with a bus pass with a carer component. My grand daughter, his mother, was informed (it now seems mistakenly) that she could use the pass to do errands such as getting special medicines from nearby town, on her own when my great grandson was in school. The pass is only three months old and so far all has been ok. Yesterday when both my granddaughter and I (pensioner) were in a neighbouring town collecting essential item for her son, when we boarded the bus to come home the driver got very abusive to my granddaughter and said she could not use the pass on her own and shouted many times to a bus full of people “this is fraud”. He phoned he depot and was attempting to retain the pass but I stepped in and he announced he would give the pass back but made a note of its number for onward transmission to local county council. When we telephoned the county council when we got home the manager could not clarify the exact rules on this matter and on further searches through both county and bus regulations nothing could be found. On the assumption that she cannot use it alone and from what I ascertained on various sites when a pass number is flagged on the datebase as improper use it is effectively cancelled. Can anyone please tell me if there is an appeals process if this sinario occurs and would the intervention of the Citizens Advice Bureau be of assistance.

  13. Arthur Carvell

    Can a National bus pass issued in Cheshire West & Chester be used on the Merseyrail network?

  14. Arthur Carvell

    Can bus passes that are issued by Cheshire West & Chester Council be used on Merseyrail services?

  15. admin Post author

    No – see Blackpool website

    “Travel on trams

    Please note that free travel on Blackpool trams will only be available to holders or cards issued by Blackpool Council.”

  16. Peter D Asige

    Hi, anybody know how flexible the rules are when ones destination by local train falls less than 1 stop over the county border?

  17. Luca Gaglione

    I was amused to hear that First Buses in Essex refer to the Freedom Pass Holder as the “Blue Rinse Brigade”…..

  18. Alex McDonald

    I applied for and was succesfully awarded a bus pass by East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) under the War Pensioner’s umbrella. Apparently I could have applied as soon as my War Pension was awarded 12 years ago but I wasn’t made aware of this.
    I am not of retirement age and need to get to work on a daily basis but my bus pass cannot be used before 09.30 which considering I start at 08.00 makes it useless. I contacted ERYC and was advised that “they offer the basic national scheme. To increase the times when pass holders can travel for free would require additional local funds to be invested. Under the current budgetary constraints, East Riding have no plans to supplement the existing scheme at this time.”
    I am of a mind to escalate this as far as my local MP, has anyone else had a similar problem?

  19. Corine Ruckman

    It is truly a nice and helpful piece of info. I’m happy that you simply shared this useful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Tony

    Very recently there has been a step backwards on Bristol First group buses, the machines which read the concessionary over 60s cards are now showing on the display “Bristol OAP” whereas before they read “concession”. Using one of these cards myself I find this extremely offensive, the term OAP originated in the late 1950’s and that is where it belongs. It is stereotypical, negative, and politically incorrect. A large number of people in this age group are still working hard and are certainly not OAP’s. A highly derogatory term. I have complained to First bus South West and Wales, and received the answer that the customer information screen has been set to show more detail as an enhancement required for smart cards. Why? what is achieved by showing the passenger anything on the screen other than card excepted. Following their line of thought then disabled people could well expect to see” Bristol cripple” on screen. Am I on my own on this? am I an over sensitive OAP? or is anyone else enraged.

  21. admin Post author

    Much depends where you live – I’d suggest looking up your local bus pass office from our ‘where to apply’ pages where you’ll probably find information on lost bus passes.

  22. Avril Matthews

    Could you pease advise me – had my purse stolen Tuesday 28th October and included my bus pass. How can I obtain a replacement.

  23. Jacqueline

    My mum is a resident in spain but receives a pension from the UK. Can she apply for a freedom pass.

  24. Simone

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the challenges. It was definitely informative. Your website is very useful. Thank you for sharing!

  25. George Donald

    I am a new bus pass holder from County Durham. Going to London in a fortnight can my pass be used on London tube?

  26. admin Post author

    It sounds like a faulty machine on the bus that wouldn’t accept your pass, you did the right thing in not giving in. We hear of similar things happening occasionally, but bus drivers usually accept a pass if it looks OK to them. For sure you are entitled to use your bus pass anywhere in England on service buses.
    If it happened very often I’d be inclined to take it up with your bus pass office in case there is a fault with the card.

  27. George Darbyshire

    Can anyone help with this problem. I have a Diamond pass issued in South Gloucestershire, recently I was traveling in birmingham and on one bus, the ticket machine did not accept my pass, and the Driver said because the machine did not recorgnise my card I would have to pay. Needless to say I refused and he gave in and let me travel. I think I am right as my pass is in date, but am I right ? on the next bus the pass was accepted as normal.
    Thanks George Darbyshire

  28. Alfred Crofts

    To answer more fully the original question, the Government spends £1.1billion on the English National Concessionary Bus Pass Scheme, and has issued around 11 million bus passes. This equates to around £100 per pass holder. This is paid via local authorities to bus operators as a contribution towards the cost of carrying pass holders for free. The remaining, vast majority of the cost of carrying these passengers, usually around 80%, is subsidised by the bus companies.

  29. Alfred Crofts

    The Government, via Local Authorities, pay a very small contribution to the normal proper fare. The vast majority is subsidised by the bus companies.

  30. J Heathcliff


    I had very odd looks from drivers in Bexleyheath (Greater London/TfL-Land) the other week when I boarded many buses using my West Sussex-issued pass. The ITSO system ‘the bit that makes the machine beep’ is configured differently for each area (hence, how it recognises non-London passes trying to go through the underground / train barriers, and equally, in my area, non-West Sussex disabled passes trying to get on before 0930 in W Sussex!); however mere presentation of the pass is good enough. Similarly to you, I had Kent County Council (like getting blood
    out of a stone getting a pass out of them, but Medway gave me one no problems; so clearly, although national rules, interpreted differently) years ago and a B14 driver wouldn’t let me board in Orpington ’til I told him that we do not all live in London (I was just over-the-border in Hawley) and they are statuarily-bound to accept them! Ditto an ‘international’ 89 driver in Lewishm told me to “get a Freedom Pass, man” I informed him that was not possible from DBC/KCC as FPs are issued by the London Councils government agency. Thus, ineligible as a KCC resident.

    Alan Streeter,

    Previously the C+ element was able to be used in other areas, however since 1/4/2013, this appears not to be the case. My new WSCC form has a emboldened statement of: “the companion component can only be used in West Sussex”

    I took this up with Bus Pass HQ in Hampshire (most counties’ passes outside of the large cities are administered at Waterlooville) who said that even if I journey started/ended in WS, but
    went over the County boundary (or borough if B&H) then it has to be paid for!

    Incidentally, my new pass is issued for only one year WSCC with C+! Evidently tightening-up on the C+ length.

  31. John Cossins

    My bus pass is one with the red rose symbol and states on the back “This Travel Pass is valid on: The Merseyrail Network Mersey Ferries for river crossings only (not cruises) Local bus services in England (not Scotland or Wales)”. I am aged 70.
    The bus driver told me that the pass was “not valid in London” and that I would have to pay £2.40 for the fare. When I said that it was valid and referred him to what it said on the back of my pass, he replied “Are you trying to tell me my job?” to which I replied “Yes”. He then waved me on. I use that route fairly often and other bus drivers have been O.K. -on the previous occasion saying “Welcome to London. I hope you enjoy your visit”.

  32. admin Post author

    Thanks for sharing the experience –

    The easy way to recognise a bus pass which can be used on buses anywhere in England is to look for the red rose logo.

    There is a Mersey Bus Pass that isn’t valid outside Merseyside, that is the pass issued to someone aged 60 or over, but not old enough for a National Bus Pass -see this text form the Merseyside website:

    “Travel Concessions for the Over 60s
    Over 60s travel concessions.You can travel free on buses, trains and Mersey Ferries if you are over 60 and live in Merseyside.

    When you reach the State Pension age, you will be given a new national pass, which you will also be able to use on local bus services anywhere in England. The pass is valid during off-peak hours (after 9.30am on Mondays to Fridays and at anytime on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays).

    To check when you will become eligible for your national pass please click here.”

    The only other place that this applies to is London, where there is a similar ‘interim’ travel pass available to people aged 60 and upwards, which is only available to use in London.

    So I’d be interested to know if your pass is a National one or not?

  33. John Cossins

    My wife and I have Merseytravel elderly bus passes and use them frequently in London and Surrey. The machines on those buses cannot read our passes but until recently drivers accepted sight of the passes. Unfortunately, this week I was involved in an argument with a bus driver in London who insisted that Merseyside passes were not valid in London and that I would have to pay the fare. When I told him that my pass was valid, he said “Are you trying to tell me my job? I replied “Yes”. After much argument, he allowed me to travel without paying a fare. Have other people had problems using their passes in other areas?

  34. John Norris

    I have a bus pass issued by Cheshire west and Chester.
    Is it possible to use this on the X95 service from Carlisle to Hawick? (and back) i.e. crossing into Scotland.
    I think I have seen somewhere that they are valid in the Dumfries and Galloway area which doesn’t quite reach Hawick.

  35. admin Post author

    Good question – I would think that services to Liverpool and Sheffield would be covered by a bus pass. The ‘local’ is meant to differentiate from long distance routes such as operated by National Express.
    One way to check this out for a journey is to go to the timetables/journey planning webpage and plan your journey there, selecting only ‘Bus’, not coach or other form of transport. It is possible to plan long journeys e.g. to Cornwall or Cumbria there, though I’ve found that you have to split up the journey into segments e.g. you might be able to plan from Manchester to say Stoke on Trent, then Stoke to Worcester – i.e no good putting Manchester to Truro in as one journey.

  36. Alun

    Can anyone enlighten me (as a new bus pass holder) what constitutes a “local bus” route. My area (gtr Manchester) allows travel on trams, rail and by bus and the local website even details the boundary limit of my travel. However buses (not coach travel) do go to such places as Liverpool and Sheffield – are these not local?

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  39. Philip

    Hello. I am delighted to have found this site & I am very grateful for the time & effort that is put in to maintain it. I am a member of the forum site ‘Bus pass heaven’ but that appears to be dying on its feet. I have just completed my registeration on here, but prior to that I received a very swift answer to a comment which I had made. Thank you so much.
    Whilst most of us recognise that the free bus pass is a funded subsidy, it is not a dead-end subsidy. Most people using the free bus pass, spend & trade, as well as the independence & well-being felt, which goes a long way to keeping us elderly people pro-active & thereby less of a drain on funds in other areas of social services. I do enjoy the text & msg’ requests that I receive from time to time, asking for local bus info, even corporate businesses contact me. So my bus pass is such a way of life, I hope it continues. It is so ironic that I travel free, but spend £600 per year, funding the school bus passes for my two grandchildren. What a pip!

  40. allan streeter

    My son is disabled and has a national bus pass with a yellow strip down the right hand side with a small c which as you know and i know means carer and the carer can travel free.Not always easy as today 27/5/12 my wife boarded a route 111 in Hounslow and showed the pass and proceeded to go and sit down with my son the arrogant driver called her back and said the pass was invalid she then explained that she travels with him because he cant travel on his own and he said an inspector told him he could confiscate the pass so my wife told him he couldnt and to save any further argument she paid the £2.30 fare which i definitey know she shouldnt have paid have no fear i will be phoning Hounslow bus garage and give them a piece of my mind and if TFL done their job properly and made publications available about different passes everybody would be wiser.

  41. Alan Lenton

    Please also note that this is an ENGLISH national scheme and does not cover journeys that are wholly in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

  42. admin Post author

    Interesting question which I don’t remember being asked before. We have looked up the Isle of Man Bus Pass website which says that Senior Citizens in the Isle of Man can have a bus pass which covers travel by rail or bus in The Isle of Man.No mention of being able to use them elsewhere, which makes us think an English, Scottish, Welsh or N Ireland bus pass would not be accepted.

    We would be very interesed to hear from anyone who has tried to use their bus pass in the Isle of Man.

  43. David Smith

    I have a bus pass issued in South Yorkshire.
    Can I use it on the Isle of Man when I visit my sister who lives in Ramsey? She has a senior bus pass issued by the Manx authorities.
    David Smith

  44. mrs emily campbell

    i sent off the forms for free bus passes for my husband and i i received mine a fortnight ago but there is no sign of my husbands can you help
    mr albert c
    and oblige emily c or can you direct me to the right website thank you

  45. Derek Ames

    I would like to know who pays for the free bus passes in England, Scotland, Wales, & N.Ireland.
    I hope you can help me in this regard.
    Thanking you in anticipation.


    Derek Ames

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