Free bus travel for pass holders in Cambs

PUBLISHED: 11:00 28 September 2006 | UPDATED: 22:15 28 May 2010

FROM Sunday bus pass holders will be able to travel free anywhere in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough. Transport chiefs from across Cambridgeshire joined forces to scrap an ill thought out Government bus pass scheme and replace it with a much fairer system.

FROM Sunday bus pass holders will be able to travel free anywhere in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough.

Transport chiefs from across Cambridgeshire joined forces to scrap an ill thought out Government bus pass scheme and replace it with a much fairer system.

The highly criticised current scheme, set down by Government, meant people aged 60 or over, as well as those with disabilities, could only travel free in their own district.

Now County, District and City Council chiefs as well as bus operators in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have hammered out a deal to deliver a free countywide scheme - this allows eligible passengers to cross district and city boundaries in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough for free.

Leaflets explaining the new system are being distributed across the County including at Council offices, roadshows, Park and Ride sites, on buses, libraries, Over 60s clubs, doctors surgeries, hospitals and the Grafton Centre. It is also on the County Council's website www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk

From October 1 the new system will mean bus pass holders in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will be able to travel for free across district and city council borders between 9.30am and to the last bus, Monday to Friday and all day at the weekend and bank holidays. This also applies to Park and Ride buses and a few other routes out of the county.

Government distributed funding for the scheme to district and city councils rather than a central pot which led to a confusing system. Many passengers were left out of pocket when the old was scheme was introduced this April.

Cambridgeshire County Council led the negotiations which has meant Cambridge City, East Cambridgeshire District, Fenland District, Huntingdonshire District, Peterborough City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils have agreed to join forces so bus pass holders can travel for free across their borders.

Despite getting no money from Government for concessionary bus fares the County Council has also agreed to cover any overspend.

This has been made possible because the County Council is on target to meet tough Government targets for increasing passengers on buses which will attract financial rewards.

Bus operators have also played their part in agreeing to financially back the new scheme.

Transport chiefs and the public have criticised the Government imposed scheme for the confusing way it was financed and brought in. All the Councils have agreed to carry on calling for Government to implement a much fairer system when the scheme changes to a national one in 2008.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for Environment and Community Services Said: "I would like to applaud the district and city councils and bus operators that have worked with us to introduce this new scheme.

"We are delighted that we can bring in this new scheme from October 1 which should provide free transport for around 140,000 people across the County. This should be a real benefit for many people who often find it hard or expensive to travel.

"We will also continue the fight for a better deal for pensioners and urge the Government to implement a much better thought out national scheme.

"This Government scheme was ill conceived and has made many people worse off. Improving public transport is vital for Cambridgeshire's future prosperity and I am pleased we have all worked together to find a much better solution."

Bus passes can be obtained by contacting local District Councils. Although in the future people may be asked to get a new photocard at this stage pass holders do not need to renew photocards issued before April 2006.

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