Morning start stays for concessionary bus pass holders

FOLLOWING an extensive consultation, Essex County Council (ECC) has announced that the 9am start for concessionary bus pass holders will continue from April 1.

It is then that ECC takes over responsibility for issuing national bus passes for the over 60’s and disabled people. Since June the council has been asking current and potential bus pass holders about the elements of the pass that they value most. There were 12,400 responses and this, in conjunction with a review of the current 12 individual schemes across the county, has enabled ECC to develop a county wide offer.

As well as the statutory minimum requirements set out by the Department for Transport, the pass will also have two discretionary elements:

• free travel between 9am and midnight from Monday to Friday and all day at weekends and on bank holidays

• a companion pass (for holders with severe disabilities) to allow free travel on registered local bus services for one extra person accompanying them

Four districts currently offer the option of replacing bus passes with taxi tokens and a number offer a reduced cost senior citizens rail card.

Due to their limited current availability and the cost of expanding this across county, the county council is unable to offer these aspects in the revised scheme.

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County Councillor Norman Hume, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “I am glad that we have been able to keep the 9am start as, from the consultation responses, I know that it is something that pass holders feel very passionate about.

“Our analysis of the responses also indicated that there is strong support for the continued use of district and borough council offices as a contact point for people to collect application forms and ask questions. We will therefore ensure that this is kept in place for at least the next year.”

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