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Move to protect free bus travel for elderly and disabled Doncaster people welcomed

Buses.
Buses.

Free off-peak bus travel for thousands of disabled and older people across Doncater will be protected for the foreseeable future thanks to a change in the law.

Bus passengers aged over 65 or with a disability have been entitled to travel free of charge on any off-peak local service in England since 2007, thanks to the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme.

Tony Nuttall.

Tony Nuttall.

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However legislation states that the scheme has to be reviewed every five years, meaning there is always a chance it could be withdrawn.

The Government has now taken the step of removing this requirement, meaning the scheme can be enjoyed without the periodical concern of it being taken away.

The move has been given a cautious welcome from the South Yorkshire Freedom Riders group, which lobbies for better public transport for elderly and disabled residents.

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Group member Tony Nuttall, aged 69, of Barnsley, said: "On the face of it this is a positive move because there was always that concern that it might be taken away.

"Free bus travel is important for elderly and disabled people to help them to get out and about. It is also good for their physical and mental well-being."

But he also said we should not forget how Government-imposed funding cuts have hit the region in recent years.

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive had to make £8.5 million worth of cuts to their 2016/17 budget.

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Mr Nuttall added: "In a wider sense, if the Government really wants to help people they should look at reversing years of cuts to local transport services."

Buses Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “The legislation underpinning our important bus pass scheme is now set for the future, meaning this group (elderly and disabled people) will be able to access their local services and amenities.”

Francesca Di Giorgio, inclusion policy manager at the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said: "We are really pleased that the concessionary bus pass scheme will continue to run, guaranteeing free off-peak bus travel for people registered blind and partially sighted."