Bus concessions go countrywideElderly and disabled will benefit

20 September 2007

 

Hand on a walking stick

The National Access Scheme is here to help - but uptake of the scheme is still low

Over 60s and disabled people will be able to enjoy free off-peak bus travel anywhere in England from April next year.

Currently concessionary off-peak bus travel is usually only available in your local authority area, but this will now be extended countrywide.

Concessions apply between 9.30am and 11pm on weekdays, and all day at weekends and bank holidays.

Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales operate their own separate schemes.

The new passes will be smartcards with photo-ID that passengers can simply swipe over a reader. This will help reduce fraud and ensure that pass-holders journeys are accurately recorded.

Transport Secretary, Ruth Kelly, said: ‘We have already seen how popular concessionary fares are. Now we are extending the entitlement to millions of older and disabled people who will be able to use their passes while visiting family and friends anywhere in England.’

Smartcards

It’s expected that in future the smartcard technology will also be used to allow people to access a range of other local services, such as libraries and leisure facilities.

Alan Burnett, of Help the Aged, said: ‘Millions of older and disabled people rely on local bus services. From April, they will be able to save money when they cross local boundaries or visit friends and family in other parts of England.’

The measures don’t apply to coach services. The existing, separate scheme for concessionary half-fares on scheduled coach services will continue unchanged.

In London, Freedom Passes will be re-stickered with the new national concessionary travel logo so that they are recognisable across the country. Discussions are also ongoing to convert the London Oyster system to accept these smartcards.