CAMPAIGNERS have criticised Portsmouth City Council’s decision to stop handing out travel tokens to the disabled.
The move, which comes into force next year, will affect around 3,000 vulnerable residents in the Portsmouth area who use them to get around by taxi or other means of transport except a bus.
While they’re still entitled to a free bus pass, many are claiming that isn’t good enough because services aren’t frequent enough and they don’t live close to a bus stop.
As previously reported, it’s part of the local authority’s decision to save £10m across all its services next year.
The allocation of travel tokens was part of the council’s traffic and transport portfolio, and removing it will save £148,500.
Muriel Deacon, president of the Portsmouth Pensioners’ Association, which campaigns for the rights of the elderly, said she felt devastated for those who will be affected.
THOUSANDS of elderly and disabled people could be forced to pay for a ‘lifeline’ minibus service, bosses have revealed.
The community transport minibus service, which has 5,000 members across the county, is for people who are unable to use conventional public transport.
In many areas people who are over 60, or disabled, can use it for free with their regular bus passes.
But, under a shake-up of the concessionary travel scheme, the door-to-door service will no longer be covered, meaning they will have to pay a fee for the journeys.
Read more in Lancashire Telegraph
Sir.–Although I am a pensioner and use my bus pass on occasion, I feel that here in Basingstoke we have become complacent with the travel tokens.
We have been one of the lucky ones in that I know of no other council that has issued tokens. In fact, my friends and family in Sussex have always been envious of our choices here in Basingstoke. All they are offered is the bus pass. …
Read more of letter in Basingstoke Gazette
The current problem seems to be more one of bus services disappearing rather than free fares on buses. In rural areas, already with very thin bus services a bus pass will become worthless. Reports on the problems are proving too numerous to report, but we give a few examples here from the country’s ‘serious’ press:
Bus services under threat from cuts – The Guardian
Bus services at risk because of spending cuts – The Telegraph
Bus service axe ‘will hit most needy’ – The Independent
Brutal budget cuts ‘could leave parts of the country with NO public transport’ – Daily Mail
Councillors will fight for ‘lifeline’ rural bus routes
Mayor of London Boris Johnson pledged to bring back the Double Decker to the streets of London when running for office but disability charities have heavily criticised the design of the new Routemaster.
One group claims to have evidence that wheelchair users and those with children’s buggies will have great difficulty when trying to access the new bus.
BBC London’s Transport Correspondent Tom Edwards reports.