Half-price coach travel for over 60s axedPosted on: 12 September 2011 by Gareth Hargreaves
Concessionary Fares Scheme funding cut leaves older travellers facing fare rises.
On 31 October 2011 the Government will withdraw funding for the Concessionary Fares Scheme (CSF). The scheme currently allows customers who are over 60 and those with a disability to travel for up to half price. The Government then reimburses National Express most of the difference between the full fare and the 50% discounted fare.
The over 60s and the disabled face being 'significantly disadvantaged' by the Government's withdrawal of funding for the scheme, which is an important means for these two groups to retain their independence.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director of Age UK said: 'Many older people depend on the coach concession to get out and about, to see friends and family or travel further afield if they wish. The coach concession is an effective way of preventing loneliness and social isolation of people in later life.'
Like Age UK, National Express and other travel service providers, 50connect calls on the government to delay plans to cut the concession to consult properly with concession pass holders and operators.
Savings on pre-booked journeys
While the deadline for the scheme is 31 October, there is still a chink of light for price-conscious travellers, as all journeys booked before that date will still receive the discount.
Although this means you will have to pay up front to make maximum savings, if you are a frequent traveller you can still ensure you get value for money.
It is clear, though, that the governement's withdrawal of the CSF will impact on the opportunity and viability through cost of older people to travel. For those concerned about the removal of the coach concession, National Express has introduced an email update service that will keep you up to date with the latest news and prices. To recieve these updates please complete this form
Express your concerns
The end of the coach concession also risks the future of some coach routes, especially in rural areas. On many coach routes in the UK, concessionary pass holders make up a significant proportion of passengers. National Express run 18 routes where 32-51% of passengers receive concessions. Age UK has raised concerns that the knock-on effect of axing the concessionary fare scheme will mean some routes are abandoned leaving older and disabled people without a service.
Sophie Allain, from Campaign for Better Transport said: 'This has been a hasty and poorly assessed decision which is bad news for older and disabled bus passengers but also threatens to tip a number of coach routes into decline and closure especially in rural and disadvantaged areas. When difficult decisions have to be made it is vital that the Government assesses the impacts fully, consults the public and communicates with operators. Unless the Government pauses to do these things it will be
If you want to join the campaign to reintroduce half price fares, you could write to, or email, your local MP to encourage them to raise your concern with the Department for Transport.
If you wish to write to your local MP national Express has drafted a letter template that you may use as a template, simply add your details, print and send download letter here.
For more information on the Concessionary Fares Scheme and how it affects you, please visit National Express.
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