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Petition Negotiate UK-wide recognition of older person's bus passes

We believe the UK Government should negotiate reciprocal agreements with the devolved administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to allow the recognition and use of older person's bus passes across the whole of the UK.

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Allow those of limited means to enhance their lives with free travel.

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Government responded

This response was given on 23 April 2024

The concessionary travel scheme is restricted to England as it is primarily intended to support local bus travel. Therefore, there are no plans to introduce mutual recognition of the separate schemes.

The English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) provides free bus travel in England, to those who have reached state pension age and those with eligible disabilities between 9:30 to 23:00 on weekdays, and all day at weekends and bank holidays. Concessionary travel is a devolved policy area and as such, the benefits and restrictions for the concessionary bus pass differs between the devolved nations of the UK. This means, in effect, that there are different schemes in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so the administrative arrangements are entirely separate.

The Government recognises the importance of the concessionary travel scheme and that is why the Government supports Council spending of around £1 billion each year on concessionary travel. However, the scheme is primarily intended to support local bus travel to assist with access to essential local services, staying active and avoiding isolation. This is why it is administered by local Government and travel is usually restricted to England.

The Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007 contains a power to allow for mutual recognition of bus passes across the UK through future regulations. However, integrating these separate concessionary travel schemes would not be straightforward. This is due to the different benefits and restrictions for the concessionary bus pass which exist in each of the devolved nations, this includes the fact that the age at which a person becomes eligible for the mandatory travel concession differs between England, and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It would increase the costs of the scheme in England, and, mutual recognition could result in local authorities funding concessions for visitors that are not available to local residents. There are therefore no current plans to introduce mutual recognition. The Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007 does gives power to local authorities in England to negotiate agreements with their neighbouring counterparts in Scotland and Wales to allow passes to be used on local services where the route may cross the border.

The Department remains committed to reviewing the ENCTS, as set out in the 2021 Bus Strategy to ensure that we are improving equality of opportunity for those eligible for the concessionary bus pass. The Department is currently undertaking a wholescale review into the ENCTS, including disability eligibility, the appeals process and restrictions on travel times when using the pass, however this does not include reviewing the recognition of the concessionary pass across the nations of the UK. The review is due to conclude later in 2024 and further information will be available in due course.

Department for Transport

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