Concessionary fare funding cuts affect us all

Concessionary fare funding cuts affect us all

Bus Users UK has spoken out against central government funding cuts to free travel for elderly and disabled people.

According to the LGA (Local Government Association) the cuts amount to 39% over the past four years and affect not only those with concessionary passes, but all fare-paying passengers who are being denied essential bus services as a result.

In an effort to reduce their £261 million budget shortfall many local authorities in England have cut funding to essential local bus services, leaving not only concessionary bus pass holders but whole communities without bus services.

Claire Walters, Chief Executive of Bus Users UK believes bus services are seen by many cash-strapped local authorities as an easy target: “Far more people rely on bus services than trains in this country. They are as vital to many people’s lives as gas, electricity and water, and simply cutting them off to save money is destroying people’s ability to lead normal lives.”

Local authorities have a legal obligation to fund free concessionary fares. Since its introduction the scheme has brought considerable benefits to eligible people, reducing congestion in towns and cities and offering a viable alternative to the car.

Claire said: “Bus services provide vital access to work, education, health services, shopping, family and socialising. It’s a double blow to people in rural communities where many shops and services have been closed down and moved to larger centres: not only have they lost the ability to do those things locally, they are now being denied the means to access them altogether.

“Even in urban areas, where bus services are less dependent on local authority funding, passenger fares are likely to rise if reimbursement rates for passengers travelling on concessionary passes continue to fall.

“We need greater consultation and urgently, if we are to protect services that are vital to the lives of so many people and to so many communities.”

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