Free peak time bus travel for disabled people in Staffordshire is set to continue – following feedback from a public consultation on concessionary travel.
Staffordshire County Council is planning to follow national guidelines for concessionary travel, which means older people with bus passes in the county will still be able to travel for free between 9.30am and 11pm and at anytime during the weekend or on bank holidays. However, people who choose to travel before 9.30am will need to pay the bus operator’s fare.
After listening to feedback, the council has amended proposals and disabled people will now be able to continue to use their passes for free travel before 9.30am.
Helen Fisher, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said:
The vast majority of bus pass holders are older people who travel during the day, so they won’t be affected by the planned changes and will continue to make their free trips as per usual.
However, during the review, it became clear that a smaller percentage of disabled passengers were using their passes to get to college, training or work on weekdays and would be disproportionately affected by not being able to travel before 9.30am.
We have listened to what people have said and as a consequence plan to continue to offer pre-9.30am free travel to disabled people who haven’t yet reached retirement age.
We are also planning to offer some flexibility in exceptional circumstances, to allow all card holders free travel before 9.30am if, for example, there isn’t an alternative bus for several hours. This would be particularly beneficial in more rural areas and would be decided on a case by case basis.
Although most journeys by card holders will not be affected, we are continuing to work with bus operators to encourage favourable fares for older people who choose to travel by bus before 9.30am on a regular basis.”
The English National Concessionary Travel Scheme is a national bus concession offering free off-peak local bus travel for eligible older and disabled people. Currently Staffordshire operates an enhanced ENCTS scheme which allows free travel at all times of day, across the entire week (Monday through to Sunday).
The proposal is to remove this discretionary concession and align the Staffordshire ENCTS scheme with the national statutory hours of operation. The proposed changes will be implemented in the summer.
The council’s final budget for 2019/20 will be presented to Full Council on February 14.