22 April 2008

Bus Pass U-Turn

Following a meeting on 16 April, North East Lincolnshire Council have opted to lift the time restriction for those holding National Free Bus Passes.

Originally, those in the North East Lincolnshire unitary authority area travelling Mondays to Fridays were only able to use their free concession pass between 0930-2300, but following this decision, will be allowed to use them at any time of day.

Councillor Martin Vickers (a bus user himself) commented: "It is fair to say that we did not understand the value that local residents put on their early morning bus passes to access local services - particularly the hospital and their doctors. It will be reinstated for residents of North East Lincolnshire for travel within North East Lincolnshire."

It is estimated that the lifting of this restriction will cost an additional £100,000 although
will not result in an increase in council tax or cuts in services, according to councillors.

South Holland District Council in Lincolnshire is also discussing lifting the time restriction, and their leader Gary Porter wants the council to put up the money, estimated at an extra £10,000 per year, to subsidise free travel before 0930. He commented: "I am in discussions with all the other leaders but if they are not prepared to go for a Lincolnshire scheme then we will look to introduce a South Holland-wide scheme. If we are going to do it then we should just bite the bullet and do it for real. This is not a council position yet, but I am confident that because it is a common sense thing members will take it on board. We have gone from being the best county in the country in the previous scheme to just being the same as everybody else. We have to aspire to be better than that."

Other councillors welcomed the proposal, which will now go forward to full council.