Concessionary fares scheme in chaos - says MP

March 27, 2008 11:31 AM
Bus stop

Mark wants the national concessionary bus fare system to work for local residents

This week in a debate in Parliament about concessionary bus fares, Cheadle MP Mark Hunter, challenged the Government over fears that the scheme is under-funded.

The debate, initiated by the Liberal Democrat Transport Team, highlighted the serious problems facing the much heralded project to introduce a national concessionary bus fares scheme for OAPs and disabled people.

The Liberal Democrats focused on the funding shortfall now facing many local authorities and accused the Government of having seriously underestimated take up rates. Mr Hunter pointed out during the debate that this has caused delays in processing applications, leaving many elderly residents without the new pass, thus limiting them to travel only in their own area.

Speaking after the debate, Mr Hunter said: "It's all very well for the Government to be talking about elderly people now being able to travel cheaply to the seaside or to visit relatives, but many of my constituents will not receive their new passes on time and their travel options will be restricted as a result.

"The scheme itself is a great idea, and one which we have been calling for, for a long time. But it does need to be properly funded by the Government. In Greater Manchester residents are now being told by the PTA that their existing passes will be valid for an additional six months simply because they can't get the new ones out in time. This will mean travel continues to be restricted to just the Greater Manchester area. There has been a serious failure to asses the likely take up rate and those who are entitled to these passes are now losing out as a result.

"The Government need to urgently look again at how this scheme is operating now, not in three years time as they intend, and make the changes needed."

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