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.
This topic has been raised many times, the most recent in January 2017
A GLASGOW MSP is asking constituents to help him with a dilemma of ageing.
John Mason wants to find out if people think he should apply for a free bus pass as he has just turned 60.
Mr Mason, while agreeing with the concessionary travel scheme, said he is in a well-paid job and can easily afford the bus fare.
He is grappling with the decision of using what he is entitled to or accepting something for free at a cost to the public purse, which on a MSP salary of almost £62,000 he can afford to pay for.
Councils are spending £200m a year subsidising the concessionary bus fares scheme, new analysis has revealed.
The Local Government Association (LGA) warned the scheme has been underfunded for years by central government, and is being financially topped up by councils at the expense of other discretionary services.
In a new report – due to be published later this week – the LGA is calling on the Government to fully fund the concessionary fares scheme and give councils control over the Bus Service Operators’ Grant.
Cllr Martin Tett, LGA transport spokesman, said: ‘Faced with significant funding pressures, many across the country are being forced into taking difficult decisions to scale back services and review subsidised routes.
‘The way the concessionary travel scheme is funded by Whitehall has not kept up with growing demand and cost. By giving councils control over the Bus Service Operators’ Grant, and properly funding the free bus pass schemes the government could help us support and maintain our essential bus services, reduce congestion and protect vital routes.’
Thousands of over-60s normally eligible for free bus travel could now have to pay to ride due to a massive backlog in renewing permits.
People are facing delays of up to 28 days as Lincolnshire County Council deals with 6,000 applications a month rather than the usual 1,200 to 1,500.
This is because 67,000 passes are due to expire this year and demand is high despite the council advising people as early as last autumn to apply six months before expiry dates. It normally takes up to 10 days to issue a renewed pass.
Read more at http://www.lincolnshirelive.co.uk/thousands-of-over-60s-face-waiting-up-to-28-days-for-free-bus-pass-renewal-in-lincolnshire/story-30285097-detail/story.html#hMQ2ggA5ytRMqJUD.99
Earlier this year The Sunday Post revealed how the Scottish Government is planning to increase the eligibility age for the popular concessionary travel scheme.
It is expected this will see the minimum age rise from 60 to 65 with current pass-holders unaffected.
Figures released under freedom of information laws show that last year £45m of the £187.7m spent on the free bus pass scheme was accounted for by users in the 60 to 64 age bracket.
Around one in five holders of the free bus pass are between the ages of 60 and 64, with many of them working commuters.
Meanwhile, a new poll has revealed the majority of older Scots have backed the age increase.
Scottish Labour’s transport spokesman Neil Bibby MSP said: “The SNP is failing passengers up and down the country.
“Under the nationalists, vital services have been cut while ticket prices have gone up. Communities have been left stranded as key routes have been scrapped.
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.
Think you’ll get a free bus pass at 60? Think again
THE age at which Scots qualify for a free bus pass is to rise, The Sunday Post can reveal.
In the face of soaring costs, SNP ministers are planning to increase the eligibility age for the popular concessionary travel scheme from 60.
A public consultation on the move will get under way later this year but it is understood current holders of the free bus pass will be unaffected.
The move was meant to have been launched this month but has now been put off until after May’s council elections.
The plan would leave Scots worse off than many parts of England, such as London, where the concessionary travel scheme starts at 60.
Around 200,000 people between the ages of 60 and 65 currently hold a free bus pass with many people who have retired early enjoying the benefits of the card.
Last month a £10 million black hole in the funding for the bus pass scheme was revealed in the Scottish Government’s draft budget.
Grilled by MSPs on whether entitlement for bus pass holders would remain unchanged in the wake of this cash shortfall, a top Transport Scotland official pointedly said: “For those who have the card, yes, absolutely.”
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.
What a shame they can’t get their act together!
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.
You can read other bus pass users complaints on
Do print off a copy of the attached and have it with you on your next journey. London Bus Driver’s Guide Book Page
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”.
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.