Free bus passes for elderly and disabled protected ‘for the foreseeable future’

Free off-peak bus travel for older and disabled people in England will continue “for the foreseeable future”, after the Government amended legislation so that the concessions will no longer face a review every five years.

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.

Ministers say the new regulations will allow millions of older and disabled people up and down the country to benefit from free bus travel, allowing them to get around in their communities and “go about their daily lives”.

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 underpinning our important bus pass scheme is now set for the future, meaning this group will be able to access their local services and amenities.”

Charities and others welcomed today’s announcement. Francesca Di Giorgio, Inclusion Policy Manager at RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) said: “Blind and partially sighted people rely on bus services to get to work, visit friends and family, and be part of the community. Buses are a vital lifeline bringing independence to many people with sight loss.

“We are really pleased that the concessionary bus pass scheme will continue to run, guaranteeing free off-peak bus travel for people registered blind and partially sighted.”

Dave Bracher, Campaigns Manager, Spinal Injuries Association said: “Buses provide a lifeline to many of our members, enabling them to be active in their local communities, commute to work, visit family and friends and undertake a host of other activities.

“We know that having a spinal cord injury, like any disability, attracts significant additional costs – and this initiative helps people financially and to lead active, engaged and fulfilled lives.”