End to unlimited free bus travel for over 60s

By Martin Neville

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

 

BUS users have condemned the Isle of Wight Council's decision to end unlimited free bus travel for the over 60s.

From April next year, pensioners will no longer get free bus travel before 9.30am and after 11pm Mondays to Fridays.

The move will save the Isle of Wight Council £280,000 a year.

Don Vincent, secretary, Isle of Wight Bus Users' Group, said: "To save a fraction of their quoted £2 million under funding of public transport for the over 60s by restricting travel until 9.30am, this local authority will cause a lot of hardship and inconvenience to bus users across the Island."

The government requires the council to offer free bus travel for pensioners at off-peak times, as part of a national programme introduced three years ago. The council extended this to allow pensioners to travel free at all times on the Island's buses.

But members of the authorityís ruling cabinet heard that due to government under-funding of the concessionary fares scheme, the authority had been left with a significant funding shortfall this year.

By reducing the scheme from April, transport cabinet member Cllr Edward Giles said the council could save around £280,000 a year.

The council will continue to fund unlimited travel for the disabled and residents suffering severe and enduring mental health problems, and their carers, and off-peak rail travel on the Isle of Wight to eligible Island residents.

Reporter: martinn@iwcpmail.co.uk

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