08 June 2008

Time restriction to be lifted?

An interim review by the five district councils, Lincolnshire County Council and the bus operators, means council leaders are considering removing the 0930 - 2300 time restriction for those entitled to free bus travel in England.

If the new policy is accepted it will only apply to residents of Lincolnshire, not people visiting the area.

Initially, the councils were unsure of the financial implications, but believe there is a way to make the unrestricted scheme work whilst being good value for the taxpayer. The decision is still subject to formal approval by each council so the new policy is likely to be introduced from July 1.

Residents in East Lindsey, West Lindsey, South Holland, Boston, Lincoln and North Kesteven will benefit from the proposed changes. Removing the restrictions is expected to cost each council around £17,000,

South Kesteven District Council decided not to join the scheme because it was not satisfied that the projected costs would not adversely affect tax payers. Finance portfolio holder Coun Maureen Spencer Gregson said: "The fact is that we simply don't know what impact the cost of the new scheme will have. Until we have some real data about the number of journeys taken and the pattern of travel, we're not prepared to risk any more of council tax payers' money by increasing our exposure any further. We need to look at how people are using their passes over the next six to nine months so we can make more accurate cost estimates and take another look at the time restrictions."