Free all-day bus passes to be protected

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PENSIONERS have welcomed the news that they will still be offered free all-day bus travel when the bus pass scheme moves to county council control.

Lincolnshire County Council is taking charge of the concessionary bus fare scheme from South Kesteven District Council from April.

Although its Government funding to provide the scheme will be reduced from £7m to £6.2m, the county council has pledged to keep free travel before 9.30am.

South Kesteven District Council only started providing free travel before 9.30am in April after the Mercury joined hundreds of pensioners across the area in calling for free all day travel.

A petition with 1,900 signatures was also presented to the district council.

The scheme was introduced in 2008 but South Kesteven was the only one of the seven district councils in Lincolnshire to limit free travel to off-peak hours.

Rutland County Council offers its residents free travel before 9.30am.

Mary Patrick, of Essex Road, Stamford, said: “I know a lot of people fought very hard to get all day bus travel so it is very good news they are going to keep it. It is very important for things like early hospital appointments.”

County council portfolio holder for highways and traffic William Webb (Con) said: “There will inevitably be changes but we are determined to continue providing an excellent service for all bus pass holders.

“We know that being able to use the passes before 9.30am is very important to people and are pleased to announce that we’ve been able to maintain this as part of the new arrangements.”

Existing bus passes displaying South Kesteven District Council logos will remain valid until their expiry date.

Savings will be made by introducing a postal application system and online applications, which should be in place by autumn next year.

Lincolnshire County Council will not offer taxi tokens or rail cards from March 31 and changes to the retirement age will mean people will not be eligible for a bus pass until they reach 66.

For more information on the scheme phone 01522 782070 in Lincolnshire or 01572 722577 in Rutland.