The age limit for free bus passes could be raised as a consultation on the benefit gets under way.
Transport minister Humza Yousaf has issued a call for views on proposals aimed at making the concessionary travel scheme affordable in future.
More than 1.3 million over-60s and disabled people benefit from the free bus pass, accounting for about 145 million journeys each year or a third of all those made in Scotland.
The scheme is facing a £9.5m cut in the 2017-18 draft budget despite rising numbers of older people.
Yousaf insisted passes would not be taken away from those who already benefit or are due to obtain one before the changes come in.
Labour said the SNP has “no mandate” to make cuts to the bus pass budget as no such policy was in their manifesto for the 2016 Holyrood election.
The new consultation looks at whether the age of eligibility should be raised in one go or gradually to bring it into line with the state pension age, which will be equalised for men and women in 2018.
A £1MILLION boost to the bus network in Lancashire has been hailed as ‘fabulous news’ in a village that lost its service.
The new administration at Lancashire County Council has committed to increase the budget to support bus services from £2m to £3m.
A key priority is to restore lost links between communities, particularly in rural areas.
That was the case for about eight months in Sabden, where villagers without access to a car were effectively ‘stranded’’ in 2016.
Other plans include increasing the frequency of services on routes where there is more demand and stabilising the network to support routes that might otherwise disappear. Read more
A GROUP of elderly people feel ‘victimised’ and ‘trapped’ after being forced to pay £1 a day for a formerly free bus.
Pensioners who rely on the number 22 Grant Palmer shopping service bus from into Bedford town are now forced to pay £1 each weekday morning, despite being able to use it for free just a week and a half ago.
This is because Bedford Borough Council is now charging the elderly and disabled with concessionary passes who use the bus before 9.30am , which came into force on February 1.
The scheme was introduced to save the council £100,000 a year in light of what portfolio holder for finance, Michael Headley described as ‘punishing government cuts’.
The council previously claimed single service buses would not be affected by the charges.
Read more at http://www.bedfordshire-news.co.uk/pensioners-feel-victimised-by-1-charge-for-their-only-bus-to-town/story-30127613-detail/story.html#5myR6bIrWiWRyzHY.99
The age at which Scots qualify for a free bus pass could be set to rise.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said the Scottish government would hold a consultation on changes to the national concession travel scheme.
He wants to extend it to Modern Apprentices and those on Job Grants and said people who already had passes would retain them.
But he said ministers had to look at the “long-term sustainability” of offering all those over 60 free travel.
The Scotland-wide free bus pass entitlement scheme was introduced in 2006.
The card allows passengers, aged over 60 or disabled, to travel free on local, registered or scheduled long-distance services.
The transport minister has said a public consultation on changes to the current system will be held.
However, he insisted that current holders of the passes would be unaffected.
Mr Yousaf told BBC Scotland: “If you’ve got a free bus pass you will continue to have that free bus pass and continue to be able to use that pass in the way that you currently are.
“What we have said is that we want to extend the national travel scheme to Modern Apprentices, to those on a Job Grant, so that some young people, that are in the most need, can also benefit.
“But clearly people are living longer, they are staying in work longer – which are all good things – but it does add a pressure. Read more
CHANGES to discount travel passes in Bedford borough are set to come into force next month.
The English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) allows disabled and pensioner pass holders to travel free of charge on bus journeys where the journeyis made between 9.30am and 11.00pm Monday to Friday or anytime on weekends or bank holidays.
This part of the scheme is not changing.
But Bedford Borough Council had previously subsidised pass holders’ travel in addition to the national scheme to allow them to use buses for free at any time on journeys within the borough. This initiative is being altered.
READ MORE:£2.7m budget cuts as Bedford council tax rises
ENCTS pass holders travelling before 9.30am on weekdays will now pay a contribution of £1 per journey toward the cost of their journey as of February 1, 2017.
Message from bus pass user today: “I have just been on the H37 bus from Blenheim centre towards Richmond and the driver told me my national bus pass was not valid, even when I showed him it was valid anywhere in England. It made me feel uncomfortable and embarrased. It is about time tFL instructed all their drivers of the situation.”
This is appalling – so many people have been embrarrassed in this way.
Isn’t it strange, we have never had a complaint from a Londoner having a problem using their pass outside London.
Labour have claimed older people are getting a “raw deal” from the Scottish Government’s draft budget as concessionary travel is in line for cuts of almost £10m.
The party’s transport spokesman Neil Bibby raised fears that fares for paying customers will rise and lifeline bus routes will be cut as the funds for subsidised and free travel for disabled and older people is reduced by £9.5m next year.
The Scottish Government’s budget document plans to cut concessionary travel cash from £207.8m in 2016/17 to £198.3m in 2017/18, but a Transport Scotland spokeswoman said the free bus pass scheme would continue “exactly as it does at present”.
The document states the government will “constrain payments under the concessionary travel scheme for older and disabled people as a result of a negotiated settlement with the bus sector and develop options in consultation with stakeholders to safeguard the scheme’s longer-term sustainability”. Read more
RESIDENTS in a North East Lincolnshire village say they have been left feeling isolated after a bus service into Grimsby was scrapped.
Hundreds of villagers in Tetney have signed a petition in protest over the decision, with many calling for a reduced service to compensate after the village was removed from the list of stops on Stagecoach’s number 51 service.
The Louth to Grimsby bus service, which originally stopped in Tetney each hour between 8.52am and 3.52pm from Monday to Saturday, was cancelled by Stagecoach because they claim it has been “undermined” by a subsidised bus service run by Franklin College for its students.
But residents in the village say the decision will leave many people, especially the elderly, feeling more isolated.
More news: A third of workers in North East Lincolnshire earn below the living wage
Trish Bulmer, 58, of Fern Mews, said: “It’s awful really. I hate to think that I can’t get out.
“I can ask my neighbour for a lift into town but it’s not the same as going under your own steam. It gave older people their independence.”
The number 51 service, which previously picked up passengers at the village’s Plough Inn in, stops at Grimsby hospital, meaning many villagers could use the service to attend vital hospital appointments.
RESTRICTING times when bus pass holders can travel for free is the latest money-saving move from council chiefs.
Residents are asked to give their views on proposed alterations to the concessionary bus pass scheme in Dorset in a six-week consultation ahead of possible changes coming into force next April.
Dorset County Council subsidises a scheme which allows bus pass holders free concessionary travel before 9.30am on services where the next bus is not until after 10.30am.
However in a move to save money and free up buses it is proposed to withdraw free travel for concessionary bus pass holders before 9.30am on weekdays.
This applies to almost 50 bus services, mainly in rural communities.
It does not affect the partially sighted and blind, who would still be able to travel free any time. The companion scheme for people with disabilities would still continue, and concessionary holders would still be able to travel anytime of the day weekends and public holidays.
It may make compelling “slow television”, but slow travel this is not. As the bus whizzes along the A684, I’m willing the driver to slow down so I can better enjoy the view. The single-decker’s spotless picture windows and elevated seats deliver a fast-forwarding pano-shot of Wensleydale, its emerald curves broken up by solitary barns and drystone walls that snake up towards tree-softened valley slopes.
I’m taking a ride on the Wensleydale Flyer, sister service to the Northern Dalesman, whose meanderings through Swaledale and Ribblesdale, recorded for the recent fly-on-the-dashboard BBC4 documentary All Aboard! The Country Bus, captured the hearts (and perhaps lowered the blood pressure) of nearly a million viewers. One of some 14 interlinking routes that make up the DalesBus network and open up the Yorkshire Dales to car-free travellers, the Flyer begins its weekly Sunday service at Hawes, the pretty, cobbled home of Wensleydale cheese, and travels 40 miles along the valley to Northallerton, North Yorkshire’s county town.