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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Expansion of free bus travel in England

Since 1 April 2008, eligible users have been entitled to free off-peak travel on local buses anywhere in England.

Are you eligible?

If you are resident in England and are aged 60 or over or are 'eligible disabled' you are entitled to England-wide concessionary bus travel.

What is 'eligible disabled'?

You are eligible disabled if you:

* are blind or partially sighted
* are profoundly or severely deaf
* are without speech
* have a disability, or have suffered an injury, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to walk
* do not have arms or have long-term loss of the use of both arms
* have a learning disability - a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind which includes significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning, or
* would, if you applied for a licence to drive a motor vehicle under Part III of the Road Traffic Act 1988, have your application refused under section 92 of the Act (physical fitness) on grounds other than persistent misuse of drugs or alcohol.

What does the new pass entitle you to?

Since 2006 you have been entitled to the statutory minimum concession of free local bus travel in your area from 9.30 am to 11.00 pm on Monday to Friday and at any time during weekends and public holidays - and this will continue. Since 1 April 2008 you are also entitled to free local bus travel in all other areas of England during these off-peak times.

Local authorities may offer extra benefits to their residents as part of their concessionary scheme – for example, free or reduced off-peak tram or rail travel, or free bus travel before 9.30 am Monday to Friday.

However, these additional benefits will normally only be available to that region’s own residents. So if you visit an area that offers additional services, you probably won’t be entitled to them – make sure you check first with the relevant authority.

How to get a concessionary travel pass

If you live outside Greater London

If you have not yet applied for an England-wide bus pass, or have only just become eligible, you will need to apply to your local pass provider. As part of the application you’ll need to:

* prove your eligibility
* prove that you’re a permanent resident of your area
* supply a recent passport-style photograph for your new pass

If you have already applied for a new pass, please contact your bus pass provider for further information about your application.

If you live inside Greater London

If you already had a Freedom Pass before April 2008, you will have had a sticker applied to your pass when you renewed it for 1 April 2008. You can now use your stickered pass in London and for off-peak local bus travel across England.

If you are eligible but don't already have a Freedom Pass, you should contact your local London Council for further details of how to apply, or go to the Freedom Pass website.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Walking to work and school

Walking is a great way to discover more about an area, improve your fitness, protect the environment and save money.

Discover the benefits

The benefits of walking include:

* health - regular walking can reduce the risk of many health problems such as coronary heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, anxiety and stress
* quality of life - walking can improve weight control, stamina, energy, confidence and life expectancy
* convenience - you can walk to most places at any time; you can also start slowly and build up gently
* cost - walking is free and you don't need specialist equipment

The Ramblers' website has a section on their Get Walking Keep Walking programme, which includes a 12-week walking plan and information on walking in cities throughout England.

Staying safe

There are a few simple rules for walkers that are worth adhering to. You can find out more from The Highway Code, which contains rules for pedestrians.

You can also find details on crossing roads safely in the Green Cross Code, as well as other useful information on the Arrive Alive website.

Finding the time

If you live in or near the countryside, you may have plenty of opportunities for walking. In a town, such opportunities may be limited, and you may need to make more of an effort to find the time to walk. Wherever you live, try to build walking into your normal everyday routine. For example, you could:

* go for a walk at lunchtime - this can give you an energy boost for the afternoon
* walk to school instead of driving
* get off the train, bus or tube a stop earlier than usual
* walk to the newsagent or post office instead of using the car
* walk up flights of stairs, rather than use a lift

Walking to school

Walking to school improves a child's health and allows them to travel independently - but their safety and security is paramount. For children who do not want, or who are not ready, to walk to school unaccompanied, there are a number of alternatives. The Walking Bus scheme, for example, enables children to walk to school in safe, supervised groups (see below for more information).

If it is too far to walk, your child may be eligible for free transport to school. The Education and learning section of this site has more details of free transport schemes for school children.

Walk to School Campaign

The Walk to School Campaign encourages pupils to walk to school more often. The campaign, which is supported by the Department for Transport, includes the popular Walk on Wednesday (WOW) initiative, which helps to promote regular walking among pupils.

Children, parents, school teachers and community leaders can also take part in Walk to School Week, 19-23 May 2008 (12-16 May in Scotland), and International Walk to School Month, which is October 2008. These are great opportunities to get involved in events that promote the many benefits of walking.

Walking buses

The Walking Bus concept is a new, safe, healthy and environmentally friendly approach to walking large groups of children to and from school.

Each walking bus has an adult 'driver' at the front and an adult 'conductor' at the rear. The children walk to school in a group along a set route picking up additional 'passengers' at specific 'bus stops' along the way. The bus runs in all weather conditions and everyone wears a reflective jacket.

Each walking bus is different, as they are developed to suit the needs of children and their parents. Some schools have a number of walking buses, whereas others only have one. Some walking buses operate only on certain days, while others operate only in the morning or afternoon.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Greener travel: a quick guide

Personal travel accounts for up to a quarter of all the damage individuals do to the environment across Europe, including climate change effects. You can reduce the climate change impact of your travel in a number of ways.

1. Consider travelling less

Can you get what you want nearer to home, or without travelling at all? For example, holidaying in the UK, using local leisure facilities and shops, or sometimes working from home. Reducing your travel will reduce climate change effects and local air pollution.

2. Try different ways to get around

Leaving your car at home and walking, cycling, or taking the bus or train will help reduce the negative impacts of driving. It is also possible to travel longer distances by other modes of transport, not just air.

3. Drive to reduce your fuel consumption

Making some simple changes to the way you drive can reduce fuel consumption and reduce climate change effects. For example, driving smoothly, sticking to the speed limits, and keeping tyres properly inflated.

4. Buy a more efficient car

You don't have to compromise to buy a greener car - just choose a more fuel efficient one. New cars carry a fuel economy label telling you how efficient they are. Choosing a more efficient car can help reduce carbon emissions and local air pollution, and will often save you money on vehicle tax and other charges, as well as on fuel.

5. Maintain your vehicle responsibly

Well maintained vehicles tend to run more efficiently. Waste from car maintenance is often hazardous, like engine oil, other fluids, batteries and tyres. Careless discarding of these items can cause pollution but council waste facilities will be able to accept them for safe disposal.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Congestion is a growing problem, especially around city centres, and car parking spaces are often limited. Many local areas have introduced a range of parking schemes to help.

Who's responsible for parking

Local traffic authorities (usually local councils) together with private companies are responsible for managing parking.

Managing parking involves:

* creating parking spaces
* operating car parks
* creating controlled parking zones - where parking may be reserved for permit holders or restricted to certain times of day.

Who enforces parking regulations?

This depends on where you live. In many areas, including London, local authorities have the power to enforce parking restrictions. In others, parking is a criminal matter, enforced by the police and dealt with through the magistrates' courts.

Parking restrictions

You must pay for parking in most controlled parking zones and car parks. Parking without paying or exceeding the period allowed means you may be issued with a penalty fine.

There are two types of parking controls:

* restrictive parking - for waiting and loading only
* designated parking - identifies where vehicles can be left and under what conditions and includes residential parking zones

There are also areas where parking or waiting is banned:

* double yellow lines - parking is banned, although there may be specific exceptions for loading
* single yellow lines - parking is banned at specified times
* red routes - a single red line usually bans stopping and parking during working hours, while a double red line bans stopping and parking at any time.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sydney Travel Guide

Sydney is probably the most beautiful city in Australia, and is the capital city of New South Wales. Sunny and very visited, most of tourists come to this city to see its major attraction the Sydney Opera House, one of the most famous buildings on the world, and it's also the pride of the city, of course there are other interesting buildings and monuments.

Sydney is a very big city but the main attractions are located in a small area which is also one of the most luxurious areas in the city. The beaches in Sydney are simply amazing, that's why they are crowded of people in summer time, there are more than 20 waiting for you, the most famous between them is Bondi, located seven kilometers away from the city centre, is very visited in summer and through all the year, many tourists come here to spend Christmas time.

Manly Beach is also a very visited tourist destination, it's near the Sydney Harbour National Park, you can take the ferry to get there in thirty minutes or can take the fast Jet Cat catamaran to be there in fifteen minutes. And to come back from a fantastic day on the beach the best time to get into the city is at night, the lights of all the city gives to it a special view, you have to see the lights of the tallest buildings around Circular Quay looks like rainbows over the water of the harbor.

Sydney population is of about five million people, you'll discover this city still has a small-town charm. In 2000 Sydney was the host city of the Olympic Games, all the city was full of visitors, journalists and sportsmen, there was a beautiful time in the city because of this. Sydney is also the dynamic centre for Australian economic activity and one of the most important cities for finance in the Asia-Pacific region.