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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.

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