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Concessionary fares - not good enough                               Archive




   Help the Aged spells out why

As from April this year, 1.5 million men over 60 years of age in England, Scotland and Wales are entitled to reduced fares on public transport, bringing them into line with women. Sounds good, until you examine the small print and find you are in a postcode lottery. For example:  

  • Residents of Basildon, Essex, have to pay 100 for a travel pass. 

  • In Plymouth you have to be over 80 years of age to qualify for a full free travel pass.  

  • In Christchurch, Dorset, older people find their half fare travel passes invalid if they want to go shopping just a few miles away in neighbouring Bournemouth.

While people over the age of 60 in Scotland and Wales have free travel passes, in England just 20 per cent of older people enjoy free travel: for the remainder it depends on where you live. This patchwork of schemes across England often leads to additional charges when crossing administrative boundaries, thereby further devaluing the concessions.  

In rural areas bus services are often inadequate and unreliable. Train arrival times do not necessarily coincide with bus timetables, so that long waits may be necessary.  In cities, while more frequent and accessible public transport may be available, there can be additional problems such as a lack of safety and security.

Buses are often poorly designed with steps that are too high for some older people to climb. Many bus stops do not have seats or shelter from the weather, leaving some older people feeling vulnerable when waiting for a bus.

Help the Aged is calling for:


  • a national scheme of free travel passes for England and Scotland, and an integrated public transport system for Wales

  • local boundary restrictions to be abolished

  • local authorities to take greater responsibility in telling the public about the availability of travel concessions

Facts about travel  


  • Public transport is a lifeline for around seven million older people who don’t drive.

  • Poor services on many networks, coupled with the fact that many older people are not aware of their entitlement, makes public transport both impractical and costly.

  • In the last eight years, the number of older people using concessionary travel passes has fallen.

  • The least likely age group to use a travel pass are people over 75, those living in rural areas or people from ethnic minority communities. A recent survey in the West Midlands found that many Asian elders were not even aware of their entitlement and regularly paid to travel.

  • Free travel is available to people over 60 in London, West Midlands, Merseyside, Nottingham, Reading, East Staffordshire and Crawley.

  • Free travel is available to people over 60 in London, West Midlands, Merseyside, Nottingham, Reading, East Staffordshire and Crawley.

  • Ninety-four per cent of local authorities offer a half fare concessionary scheme. The remainder have flat fare schemes or free travel.


Join Help The Aged campaign to scrap age discrimination!

Find out more at 
To report examples on non-integrated public transport contact Help the Aged  E-Mail: 

To view previous articles  - see the laterlife-interest index page



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