One of the most thoughtless of the cuts made by last year's Tory administration was the removal of free bus travel for disabled residents pre-9.30. In some cases this decision was actually counter productive even from a pure cost perspective. For example a number of councillors are aware of cases of disabled children and young people who were using their bus passes to get to school who were then entitled to free transport at far greater cost to the council.
From 19th September free travel for disabled residents before 9.30 is being reinstated making it easier for disabled residents to get to school, hospital appointments or work.
This reinstatement has been paid for by the higher income that the council is making from bus lane enforcement.
I'm proud to be part of an administration that will do everything it can to protect residents who need it most from the impact of the Tory-cuts. We won't be able to do everything or to keep the status quo but we know whose side we are on, and it's not Eric Pickles.
Council press release is below:
"Free unrestricted bus travel for disabled residents and their carers will be fully reinstated later this month.
Over the next few days Reading Borough Council will be writing to the estimated 5,000 disabled residents and carers in the borough to confirm that from Monday September 19 Access Passes and Companion Passes will once again become valid for free bus travel in Reading at anytime of the day or night, seven days a week.
Reading's generous concessionary scheme had been scrapped from April 1st this year, but was reinstated following a change in Administration at Reading Borough Council in May.
Tony Page, Reading's Lead Councillor for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: 'This delivers on an early commitment from the new Administration and re-instates the cut which was a part of the budget we inherited. It will be welcome news to the many disabled who are obliged for reasons such as doctors and hospital appointments to travel before 9.30am.'
Disabled residents and carers are asked to note that free bus travel at anytime will apply only to boarding buses within Reading Borough. Free travel upon boarding buses outside Reading Borough will remain available off peak only – that is 09.30 to 22.59 Monday - Friday and anytime on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays - and is subject to the rules of the National Concessionary Travel Scheme. In some other council areas Companion Passes – which are used by carers to accompany disabled residents - are not accepted at all.
Letters being sent to residents this week will include the new passes which will become operational on Monday September 19. As of that date old passes will no longer work.
Disabled residents and their carers who have any questions or require further information can phone Stephen Wise at Reading Borough Council on 0118 9373948 or firstname.lastname@example.org"