Category Archives: London

A pensioner is calling for a change in the rules after a friend, who suffers from dementia, was refused a bus ride for losing her pass.

David Hall and pal Margaret were hoping to catch the Fastrack B bus to Dartford town centre on August 4, when they were told the 80-year-old was not allowed on.

The grandmother-of-six had lost her bus pass, which entitles her to free travel, earlier in the week and had visited Dartford Library to buy a new one

She was told the new pass would not arrive for two to three weeks so kept hold of her receipt and had been using it as proof of payment to travel on other buses.

Mr Hall, 75, said: “The bus driver said she wasn’t insured to be on the bus.

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London Transport continue to embarrass bus pass users from outside London

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

Bad Treatment of valid bus pass holders on London buses continues

The numbers of pensioners contacting us to relate their embarrassment and difficulty when their valid bus pass is refused by a London Bus driver has been going on for 3 years, and is on the increase. We quote here a couple of recent examples,
Pat September 23, 2016 at 11:13 am

We have always on trips to London been asked to swipe our cards on buses and always been waved through but on a recent visit to London on a Wed evening pre 2100 my bus pass gave message “Invalid for this trip” whereas my partner’s said “Show to the driver”. The driver waved my partner through but started to tell me mine was invalid. I told him that it was valid and ran until 2019 so he didn’t press me for payment but it does seem that London bus drivers need to be educated in how to treat bus passes especially if readers are not able to recognise them which it seems they are not.

Nora Johnson August 29, 2016 at 6:44 pm My Senior Bus Pass with ‘Red Rose’ issued in Hertfordshire was refused today, 29 August, in London on a No 170 bus running from Royal Hospital Road to Victoria Station. The card showed ‘invalid’ on the screen reader although it is in date until 31 December 2017. The driver insisted that I paid the full fare. Any comments would be appreciated.

Many more can be seen on our ‘Using a Bus Pass in London’ page.

Bus drivers are probably not happy either – it is high time TFL resolved the problems with the card readers on buses.

PS: we have had no complaints of this kind about Londoners not having their cards accepted on bus services outside London.
so get your act together London.

Once again we have written to TFL on this matter.

Some Bus drivers in London still know nothing about the English National Bus Pass scheme

Comment just received (August 2016) from a bus pass holder:

“Between 31/6/16 and 2/8/16. Myself and five of my friends went to London, as we have done for the last three years. The problem this year we were unable to use our “oap” free bus passes issued by West Midlands Authority, which we used without problems in the past. We were told we must buy an oyster card.
WHY ?”

The same issue is reported to us repeatedly:

Valid Bus Passes being refused in London & elsewhere.>

We have raised this with Transport for London several times, and nothing improves. It is very embarrasing for people to be refused what they are entitled to. Our recommendation is to stand your ground and make the bus driver sweat. There is life outside London ! Perhaps we should arrange a march on GLC HQ?

Here’s why London’s new mayor should scrap the £100m free travel bung for older workers | CityMetric

not a wise move if he wants to be re-elected, though with most of the country having to wait to age 66 and London 60+ passes covering tube also it sounds quite generous.

Making using your bus pass in London easier

Following on with our recent post about using a bus pass in London we’d like to do our bit to assist visitors to the capital with as much useful information as possible. This is what the Transport for London website says :

Concessionary bus passes from outside London

If you’re from outside London and have a bus pass issued by another English council, you can use it, at any time, to travel free on buses displaying the red roundel.

You should show your pass to the driver; at the moment they can’t be read by the yellow card readers. If the bus you’re on doesn’t display the red roundel, check with the driver if you can use it; most will let you travel free between 09:30 and 23:00 on weekdays, and at any time on weekends and public holidays.

English National Concessionary Passes issued by English councils outside London can’t be used on Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail or National Rail services.”

If it helps you could print off this copy of an extract from the pagetflfreedompasswpin case the bus driver doesn’t understand. Or maybe print off this briefer version


Big Red Bus Pass WARNING

Big Red Bus Pass WARNING

If you are thinking of visiting London and using your Bus Pass then please be aware that some drivers are refusing to recognise the pass and will not let you travel. Following on from the introduction of the Oyster card buses no longer accept cash and this has caused some difficulties for Bus Pass holders who live outside London. The Pensioners Free Bus Pass is a national system and pensioners should not be penalised because of the failure of Transport for London. In this respect we have reported the this issue but so far no department seems willing to accept responsibility for resolving the issue.

Any bus pass issued in England is valid on buses anywhere in England, and that includes London – they are easy to recognise as they carry the red rose symbol: –
ENglish National Bus Pass Symbol

We have written to the Freedom Pass Office who passed us on to the John O’Donovan, Customer Service Representative, Transport for London, who passed us on to whose reply is awaited. (this does not relate to tube travel, but that’s who we were referred on to.

Failing this our next step will be to take this up with Boris 

Contents of our email are:

“We’ve received a sudden spate of comments about bus drivers in London not accepting valid bus passes issued outside London. e.g.

Submitted on 2016/03/30 at 1:24 am

“I have had this problem in London on route 142 coming back to Watford from Burnt Oak.I have the yellow band disabled pass.One driver said he hadn’t seen one before one nearly threw me off the bus,in london some drivers do not want to except this pass.Mine is issued in Buckinghamshire and told the driver this.

TFL need to enable these ITSO passes on their oyster readers but do not look to be in any hurry,the driver normally pushes a button or similar on the machine.As route 142 operates outside grater London into Hertfordshire they should be aware of these passes but are reluctant,I have never had a problem between Watford and Burnt Oak however on the return journey there can be problems.”

Submitted on 2016/03/23 at 10:54 am:

“Some bus drivers are turning into despicable creatures.

I was in Oxford Street, when the driver was collecting the money, and telling passengers that he will issue the tickets in “a minute”. He never did, and obviously pocketed the money. Driver was Eastern European.

Two weeks ago, I was travelling from Esher, in Surrey on the 458 bus, to Kingston upon Thames.
The driver charged a disabled 82 year old pensioner, giving a flimsy excuse. I suggested to the old Lady to report him, as she was rather shocked.”

“Submitted on 2016/03/19 at 4:13 pm

I have just shown my bus pass issued in Cheshire on a london bus it was refused. Why was this”

Have you had an experience like this – if so please let us know. We understand that bus drivers have a difficult job – it is down to TFL managment to ensure that bus drivers are properly instructed.

Lowest-paid Londoners ‘spending 10 per cent of their wages on travel costs’

The capital’s lowest paid workers are spending 10p in every £1 they earn on getting to work in central London, a report claimed today.

People with cleaning jobs and other manual work in hotels and offices in Zone 1 are disproportionately affected by rising transport costs and often already struggle with high housing and living costs.

The report, Living on the Edge, by London Councils, London TravelWatch and the Trust for London, found that high travel costs were a problem for all workers in the capital.

Londoners spend an average of seven per cent of their monthly income on travel — around £100 — while one in five said they went to work via the cheapest route rather than the shortest or most convenient.

The report said Londoners need to work for an average of 44 minutes a day to cover daily commuting costs, rising to 54 minutes for those earning £200 to £599 a month and one hour and 56 minutes for those earning less than £200 a month.

The report suggested concessionary fares for low-income workers, reintroducing off-peak travelcards for people on flexible working hours and making it easier to get season ticket loans.

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a choir of London pensioners sing an ode to the Freedom Pass

A choir of senior citizens has just launched a new song, and it’s dedicated to the Freedom Pass. Bolder Voices, who are based in Kensal Green, pride themselves on writing their own material, and ‘Love That Freedom Pass’ is their ode to the scheme that’s guaranteed pensioners free rides around London since 1973. The accompanying video is up on YouTube, the highlight being a midway skit where a twentysomething whinges about the £32 she’s just spent on a Travelcard, while the choir gleefully wave their pensioners’ perks. Christmas Number One, please

Valid Bus Passes being refused in London & elsewhere.

Imagine the scene – a couple leaving the Hampton Court Flower Show attempt to board a London bus. They tender their bus passes issued in Gloucestershire but the bus driver refuses it as being invalid on London buses. Feeling very unhappy about this the elderly couple, anxious to get back to the place they are staying, offer to pay the fare but that too is refused, as no cash is now taken on London buses. Obviously bus pass holders visiting London will not have bought an Oyster Card if they intend to just use bus services for transport.
We are sorry to report that get messages at regular intervals from people with an ENCTS scheme bus pass issued in England but outside London where the bus driver has erroneously refused to accept the bus pass. This places the bus pass holder in an impossible position, since the London buses no longer accept cash.
Sadly these are not the only cases where bus drivers don’t seem to understand the rules – a resident in Somerset recently reported to us that on a trip to Devon using a Somerset Bus Pass they were made to pay the bus fare to the Somerset border. This is clearly not how the ENCTS scheme is intended to work.
May we say we don’t wish to vilify bus drivers who generally do a first class job cheerfully. We do feel very strongly though that those responsible for the provision of local bus services have a responsibility to ensure that their drivers are given clear information on the acceptance of bus passes. The position is more acute in London, since the refusal to accept a valid bus pass puts older people in a very bad situation.

If you encounter any difficulty getting your bus pass accepted we would like to hear about it – please use the ‘reply’ box below.

Comment received from Devon Bus Pass office:

You may not be aware that Devon County Council has excluded service 300 from the concessionary travel scheme as of 1st April 2014 as the service is used primarily for tourism.

This means that anyone boarding in Devon will have to pay a fare to the county border regardless of where the pass was issued.

Attached is a link to our scheme document for 2014.

Using a bus pass in London

Bus Pass holders planning a visit to London ask us very frequently ‘Can I use my bus pass in London?’ to which our reply is always ‘Yes you can if your bus pass was issued in England’ and will have a English National Bus Pass Symbolred rose symbol on it.

It is important to mention though that bus passes issued outside London aren’t accepted on the Tube, rail or ferry services in London. Why should that be ? Well the theory is that when the National Bus Pass scheme was brought out in 2008, local authorities received, and still receive funding to cover the cost [local councils will say ‘Ah but not enough funding to cover the cost’ – but that is another issue.] The English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS)provides for use of bus passes between 9.30 am and 11pm Monday to Friday, and anytime at weekends.

April 2016 Update on using a bus pass in London


There are other options for saving on Tube fares in London, e.g.

Holders of bus passes issued in Merseyside or Greater London from age 60 (i.e. earlier than the ENCTS) should note that these passes cannot be used outside their home area – these passes don’t have a ENglish National Bus Pass Symbolred rose symbol on them.

Further information about different conditions for using bus passes

In some districts councils have decided to improve on the ENCTS conditions by:

  • Extending the weekday hours – often by making the bus pass usable before 9.30 am e.g. Staffordshire allow any time during the week.
  • Making the bus pass acceptable on local metro/rail services/tube e.g. Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Greater London

Where this has happened the extra ‘benefits’ are only available for residents of the area concerned, e.g. travelling on the Merseyside Metro system with a bus pass is only available to holders of Merseyside Travel Pass.

Further information on variations in bus pass schemes in different local authority areas can be found on our Local Variations page.

We hope this explanation helps, we didn’t make these rules, we are just trying to make them understandable.

Boris’ scheme for London apprentices bus passes

he Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has kicked off National Apprenticeship Week by announcing a new concessionary travel scheme that will help put money back in the pockets of hard working apprentices.

From May the scheme, which was one of the Mayor’s manifesto commitments, will allow anyone in the first year of an apprenticeship to get 30 per cent off adult rate Travelcards and Bus & Tram pass season tickets. It is expected to benefit around 40,000 apprentices living and working in the capital and forms part of the Mayor’s on-going campaign to boost employment opportunities for young Londoners.  The concession could save an apprentice up to £660 a year on the cost of an annual travel card.

The Mayor pledged to help create 100,000 apprenticeships in the capital by 2012 and he is imminently expected to be able to confirm that he beat that target with months to spare. The latest official figures recorded up to October of last year show the campaign, run in partnership with the National Apprenticeship Service, stands at 99,700. However the next quarter’s figures are due out later this month and are expected to see a total of well in excess of the 100,000 target.

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