Pensioners may lose free all day bus travel

By Martin Neville

Friday, November 13, 2009

 

FREE bus travel for the over 60s before 9.30am and after 11pm faces the chop.

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 Isle of Wight Council decided it could also provide free travel before 9.30am and after 11pm Mondays to Fridays, meaning pensioners could use the buses at any time of the day without charge.

But this extra concession could come to an end from April next year, due to financial pressures at the council and the economic climate.

Members of the council’s ruling cabinet will decide at their meeting next Tuesday.

They will be told that due to government under-funding of the concessionary fares scheme, the authority has been left with a £2.9 million funding shortfall this year, despite the extra money given recently by the government.

Don Vincent, secretary, Isle of Wight Bus Users' Group, said: "If this recommendation gets passed on Tuesday we will be very disappointed.

"While we understand the council has a funding shortfall, we were hoping unlimited travel would remain in place for Island pensioners and only reduced to the statutory minimum for Island visitors who make up the bulk of the extra volume which has brought about this issue."

Under the recommendations, unlimited travel would be retained for the disabled and residents suffering severe and enduring mental health problems, and their carers.

And the council would continue to fund free off-peak rail travel on the Isle of Wight to eligible Island residents.

Reporter: martinn@iwcpmail.co.uk

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