Age UK welcomes protection of free off-peak bus travel for disabled and older people
On Tuesday 10th April, the government announced that disabled and older people in England will continue to benefit from free off-peak bus travel for the foreseeable future, keeping them connected with their local towns and cities.
Bus passengers aged over 65 or with a disability have been entitled to travel free of charge on any off-peak local service in England since 2007, thanks to the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme. The government has now amended legislation to protect the scheme in its current format, so that it can continue for years to come.
Buses Minister Nusrat Ghani said: ‘Being able to get out and about is hugely important for older and disabled people to keep their independence and play a role in their local community. Buses help connect people, homes and businesses and nearly 10 million people in this country are already benefitting from free off-peak bus travel.’
The legislation behind the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme has been amended so that it no longer needs to be reviewed every five years. New regulations will ensure millions of older and disabled people up and down the country can continue to make use of buses to go about their daily lives.
In addition to the bus pass scheme, the government provides £250 million every year for bus services in England, £40m of which helps to fund routes that may not be commercially viable, but which are considered socially necessary – ensuring people are connected with their local services and communities.
Age UK have welcomed the announcement and Caroline Abrahams, Charity director said: ‘We are delighted to hear that the government has recognised the importance of the bus pass. The bus pass is an important lifeline for many older people, often the poorest and those in isolated areas, who would otherwise be stranded at home – enabling them to access vital local services and stay connected with friends and family.
‘Free bus passes help fight loneliness and all the evidence shows that older people who are able to get out and about and stay engaged with their communities have a better chance of retaining their health and independence for longer.’