Free Bus Travel Under Threat

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23 Feb 2012

It is concerning to hear the news that free bus travel for older people is under threat.

The Government has already shown that it is willing to threaten free bus passes by significantly cutting the funding available to local authorities to deliver the scheme. This has forced some councils to restrict when the free bus pass can be used or axe support for bus services as a result of the loss of funding. Even more disgracefully, the Government has axed the concessionary fares scheme on coaches, failing to understand the value of these reduced fares for those who may live many miles from families and friends.

I am very worried that the speed and scale of the Government’s cuts to local transport funding and the decision to cut subsidises to bus companies are together threatening one in five supported bus services. As a result, many pensioners are asking, what is the point of a bus pass without a bus?

I know how appreciated free bus passes are and completely disagree with any suggestion that they should be cut or means-tested. Free bus travel for older people should continue to be a universal benefit to which all those who have reached the state pension age should be entitled, without any form of means-testing being introduced.

I will oppose these cuts and defend the much valued concessionary fares scheme for older people.