Category Archives: Trams

Seniors to travel free on Tyneside & Wearside Metro system this summer

Older and some disabled people will be able to travel on the Metro for free all day this summer.

Metro operator Nexus will – during July and August – lift the restriction on holders of the Metro Gold Card, which normally prevents them from using the card before 9.30am on weekdays.

The offer starts tomorrow, with the normal all day arrangements continuing at weekends and bank holidays.

Nexus’ director of finance and resources, John Fenwick, said: “This is a great special offer that we have run for the last few years, allowing Gold Card holders the chance to travel all day on Metro over the summer.

“We can do this in July and August because there are far fewer students using Metro and there are generally less commuters than at other times of the year.

“It’s an offer that encourages people with Gold Cards to use Metro for days out. It is ideal for grandparents taking their grandchildren out over the summer holidays for days out.”

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Revolutionary proposals for public transport in N East England

The North East Combined Authority has voted for a plan which could give councils power over when and how often bus services run in Tyne and Wear.

Quality Contract Scheme: What will changes to the bus system in Tyne and Wear mean for you?

The North East Combined Authority has voted for a plan which could give councils power over when and how often bus services run in Tyne and Wear

What is a QCS?

A Quality Contract Scheme is a legal power over bus services by a council. In this case, the North East Combined Authority will set ticket prices, routes and timetables across Tyne and Wear and on some routes in and out of County Durham and Northumberland. NECA will also decide what types of buses are used. Nexus, the public body which devised this scheme and currently manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, will collect fares and pay bus companies to provide bus services through contracts. This is a big change to the present market, where buses companies decide on prices and routes.
What is wrong with the current system?

NECA believes a QCS will be better than leaving things as they are. It argues people are put off using buses because fares have gone up on average 3% more than inflation for a decade. Today, councils pay bus operators to provide less-used bus services, and subsidise some fares – as well as funding the free bus pass for older and disabled people. This adds up to £56m-a-year in Tyne and Wear, money is running short and the cost of the free bus pass – which councils must pay by law – is growing, meaning that the other bus services councils pay for will have to be withdrawn.
So, everyone agrees it is great?

Not exactly. The bus companies – mostly Stagecoach, Arriva and Go-Ahead – strongly disagree with the move and recommended a voluntary system that gives them more freedom. They say a QCS a “huge gamble” that could lead to higher fares, worse services and higher tax bills in the long run.

Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham, also has “serious concerns”. He said profitable services in urban Tyne and Wear subsidise the rural bus network in Northumberland and County Durham. He is worried that subsidy would dry up under the new QCS.

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Our comment: Not difficult to see why the bus companies don’t like the idea ! Residents who live outside Tyne & Wear may stand to get a better deal on access to the Metro system ?

Withdrawal of bus pass use on Blackpool trams protest

Pensioners who will be hit in the pocket when free tram travel is scrapped next month say they don’t mind paying – but cannot afford the full fare.

From April 1, concessionary travel card holders living outside Blackpool will have to pay full fare on the trams.

Blackpool Council has said it can no longer afford to subsidise travel for all NowCard holders and claimed the move will save £700,000.

But senior citizens in Wyre say they now face paying more than they can afford or have to use an inadequate bus service.

Arthur Butler, 79, of Cleveleys, said: “For them to take the free pass off, just like that, is disgraceful.

“If a couple wanted to go to Blackpool, it will now cost them £9.20, there and back. That’s a lot of money for pensioners.”

Sheila Wright, 65, of Northfleet Avenue, Fleetwood, has arthritis and a lung condition, and needs a wheeled walker to get around.

She said: “I have to travel to Cleveleys once a week to pay the rent. I can’t go on a bus because getting on it is hard, and it hurts me when it jolts over the bumps. I will just have to pay the tram fare.
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Last chance for free Blackpool tram ride ?


At present any bus pass holder whose pass was issued in England can use their bus pass on Blackpool trams, but on 31st March 2014 only bus passes issued to Blackpool residents will be able to use their bus pass on them.

The renewed tram system has level boarding and step-free interiors and designated disabled/pushchair areas making them accessible to all. The frequent and reliable service connects passengers to all major leisure, retail and businesses along the 11 mile stretch of coastline.

Tram prices

With the fare for over 16 stops at £2.30 even if you have to pay it sounds a good deal to us. Or an all day saver also looks good value:

Blackpool all day saver

Should Blackpool trams be free to pensioners from out of town ?

A passenger watchdog today backed calls for visiting pensioners to be charged to travel on Blackpool’s trams.

The Blackpool Passenger Focus Group says the resort is one of the only towns in the UK which offers the extra discount to ‘out-of-towners’.

Focus Group chairman Stephen Brookes said pensioners from Blackpool would be charged to travel on Manchester’s trams, yet Manchester pensioners can travel free of charge on Blackpool trams.

He said: “Following suggestions visitors to Blackpool will lose the ability to have free travel on our trams, it is important to note that the whole process of free travel on Blackpool buses and the light rail system is one which is a little unique.

“Normally the Government sponsored travel scheme only covers bus services.

“Some local authorities such as Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, London and Newcastle have decided to allow bus passes to be used on local trains, the tube etc, but they are only available free to bus pass holders who live within that local authority.

“And importantly so far as Blackpool is concerned, a Scottish pass isn’t valid in England.

“We know that lots of people are complaining of this, but equally we must note that those of us visiting Scotland from England or Wales know that the same constraint applies to the use of our cards.

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People from Cumbria & parts of Lancashire use ‘NOW’ cards which includes off peak travel on Blackpool Trams, the website says:

“During the Illuminations period (normally early September to early November) travel by scheduled tram services is restricted as follows:
Concessionary fares are not available after 18:00 (6pm) on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as well as every night during the October school half term week .

Passes are not valid on Illuminations Tours or Heritage Excursions at any time.”

passengers will also be able to use bank cards, bus passes and mobile phones to pay on MetroLink

Transport chiefs say they won’t refer to it as a card like the Oyster or Liverpool’s Walrus scheme, as passengers will also be able to use bank cards, bus passes and mobile phones to pay for ticketless journeys.
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The name of Greater Manchester’s much-anticipated and long-awaited version of London’s Oyster card can be revealed today. It will be called… “My Get Me There”.

Transport chiefs say they won’t refer to it as a card like the Oyster or Liverpool’s Walrus scheme, as passengers will also be able to use bank cards, bus passes and mobile phones to pay for ticketless journeys.

But politicians have labelled the Get Me There system ‘confusing’ and say it fails to rival the catchy branding used by other cities.

The M.E.N asked readers at the time what they thought the scheme should be called – with suggestions including the Cotton Card, the Busy Bee Card, and the Ryder Card, after Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder.

Travel bosses say it will be one of the world’s most advanced smart-ticketing systems when it is launched in phases from next year.

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Emails back case for OAPs to travel free on trams

CORRESPONDENCE between council officials, Lothian Buses and Transport Scotland reveal a widespread acceptance that the national concessionary travel scheme giving free fares to over-60s and disabled people would be extended to Edinburgh’s trams.

A series of bombshell emails and memos dating back six years passed to the Evening News reveal there was a “verbal understanding” and a shared “expectation” concessionary fares would be extended to the trams.

Council chiefs insist they were always led to believe the concessionary scheme would include the trams on the same basis as buses. But Transport Minister Keith Brown has signalled the Scottish Government is set to rule the national scheme will not be extended to the trams and that any free fares will have to be financed by Edinburgh taxpayers.

The Evening News is campaigning for the scheme to be extended to the Capital’s elderly and disabled – a stance supported by transport convener Lesley Hinds.

Councillor Hinds said the Government’s stance on the issue went contrary to everything the council had been told before. And she said there had never been the slightest hint that the council would have to organise its own concessionary scheme.

She said: “There is no letter, no email from Transport Scotland or the Scottish Government that suggests we should consider a scheme of our own.
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If Edinburgh bus passes cover trams what about Glasgow’s subway?

TRANSPORT Minister Keith Brown has snubbed calls to guarantee free fares for older and disabled people on Edinburgh’s trams.

He has also sent a clear signal that the Scottish Government plans to leave Capital council taxpayers to pick up the bill for any extension of the concessionary scheme.

Lothians Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale accused the government of being “narrow-minded”.

She said: “This was built into the business case. It has been part of the deal since day one.

“We are talking about our capital city. A lot of people will be using the tram to travel from the airport to the city centre and on to other parts of Scotland. That’s why the Scottish Government took the decision to invest in the trams, because they would benefit not just the city but the whole country.”

Ms Dugdale challenged Mr Brown on the issue at question time in the Scottish Parliament, holding up a copy of the Evening News with the headline “You cannae put your granny on a tram”.

She quoted the SNP’s Kenny MacAskill in the Evening News in 2007, when he said it would be “absurd if pensioners and disabled people could not use the trams for free”.

Mr Brown said an ?announcement on the issue would be made shortly. But he said Strathclyde Partnership for Transport had written to him arguing that if there was concessionary trav
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unanimous support for bus pass tram travel in Edinburgh

PRESSURE was mounting today on the Scottish Government to guarantee free travel for over-60s and disabled people on Edinburgh’s trams.

There is unanimous support from all parties on the city council for the move.

And a clear majority of Edinburgh’s MPs and MSPs have given their backing to the Evening News’ Fare Deal For Over-60s campaign to ensure the concessionary fares scheme which currently operates on buses is extended to the trams.

Transport convener Lesley Hinds said what was at stake was the ability of Edinburgh to operate an integrated transport system of buses and trams with joint ticketing.

The extension of the free fares which cover buses was an integral part of the business case for the tram project, which was approved by Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland.

If over-60s and disabled people are banned from using their passes, the council has calculated it will leave a £500,000 hole in the trams finances.

Councillor Hinds said: “The previous Scottish Executive and this Scottish Government have always given encouragement to the assumption that concessionary travel would be used on the trams.”

Lothians Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale said: “It was always the intention to include trams in the bus passes. That’s what fully integrated transport is all about. If we don’t do that there is no way we can persuade people to get out of their cars and onto public transport.

“We are not talking about huge sums of money. This is a symbolic decision about whether we want integrated transport.”Read more

Concerns that Edinburgh’s new tram system might not accept bus passes

PENSIONERS who fear they will be left even worse off if bus passes are ruled invalid on trams have backed our campaign to win them a Fare Deal.

We told yesterday how over-60s face being barred from using their passes on trams – unless the Scottish Government allows concessionary fares to be extended to the network.

Failure to include trams in concessionary travel arrangements would mean more buses having to stay on the roads, undermining the benefits of the £776m tram project and leaving thousands of OAPs already struggling with sky-high fuel bills worse off.

Murrayfield retiree Stephen Holland said he would not hesitate in protesting when the much maligned system starts next year. The 71-year-old former librarian catches the bus from Roseburn Terrace into the city centre most days.

He is among hundreds of people aged over 60 in the Capital’s western suburbs who stand to lose out if the national concessionary fares scheme is not applied to trams.

The service used by Mr Holland stops only a third of a mile away from the Murrayfield Stadium tram station, meaning it could be at risk of cuts.

The Murrayfield Community Council treasurer said: “There’s quite a lot of elderly people around here and our understanding, as far as it goes, is that the buses would continue because the tram is not going along the main road anyway. It goes at the back and up to Murrayfield rugby stadium.

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Pensioners face £25 transport pass fee

ensioners face being charged £25 a year for passes to use trains and trams, it emerged today.

The announcement comes as it was revealed transport authority Centro is considering means testing elderly and disabled people who use the Ring and Ride service, asking them to prove they are eligible for the subsidised door to door scheme.

People above the age of 60 currently get to use the rail and Metro services for free at certain times thanks to an add-on to the free bus passes to which they are entitled by law.

However, cash-strapped Centro is being forced to cut £4.5 million off its council tax levy in an attempt to help local authorities in the West Midlands cope with massive savings.

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Centro considers scrapping free train and tram travel for pensioners in West Midlands

Pensioners in the West Midlands may have to pay £25 a year for train and tram travel which is currently free.

The fee is one of several emergency money-raising ideas drawn up by the passenger transport authority Centro.

Half-price fares for children could also be at risk if the pressure to deliver Government spending cuts forces Centro to make greater savings.

The authority has already reduced to £147.5 million the amount it charges West Midlands councils to run transport services.

But there are fears a cut of £4.5 million may not be high enough to satisfy council leaders, who are under pressure to slash their budgets for transport services.

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