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Travel Passes (Lancashire)

Volume 497: debated on Monday 12 October 2009

The Petition of residents of West Lancashire, and others,

Declares that the current arrangements of West Lancashire District Council force disabled people and those over 60 years of age to choose between a national off-peak bus pass and a discounted rail card; further declares that asking people to make a choice between these two items is not acceptable; believes that local passholders should get a better deal, like their neighbours in Wigan and Southport.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Transport to do all in his power to ensure that West Lancashire District Council changes its arrangements so that disabled people and those of sixty years of age are entitled to both a national off-peak bus pass and a discounted national rail card.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Rosie Cooper, Official Report, 20 July 2009; Vol. 496, c. 720 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received 11 August 2009:

Concessionary Travel is a popular and successful policy that gives the opportunity for greater freedom and independence to 11 million older and disabled people. The statutory minimum bus concession guarantees free local bus travel for people aged over 60 and eligible disabled people from 9.30 am until 11 pm on weekdays, and all day weekends and bank holidays. The concession recognises the importance of public transport for older people and the role access to transport has to play in tackling social exclusion and maintaining well-being.

In addition to the Government’s bus concession scheme, train companies offer the Senior Railcard or the Disabled Persons Railcard which gives one third off the price of a large range of rail tickets. The Senior Railcard currently costs £26 a year and the Disabled railcard is £18 a year. The terms of this railcard are protected by the Department for Transport through its Franchise Agreements with the train operating companies.

Local authorities, such as West Lancashire District Council, have the power to improve the concession offered in their area beyond the statutory minimum. These local enhancements can include extensions to other modes, such as trams, rail or community transport. Local authorities can also offer alternatives to the bus concession such as a discounted rail card and this is the arrangement that I understand West Lancashire District Council chooses to operate.

Local authorities are best placed to know about local needs and circumstances and must fund any enhancements to the statutory minimum concession from their own resources. Therefore any decision to offer both a discounted national rail card as well as a national off-peak bus pass would be a matter for West Lancashire District Council, taking into account the needs of their residents and their financial priorities.