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9am start retained for Medway's free bus passes

Date: 29/02/2008           Category: Integrated Transport

Free bus passes issued by Medway Council to people who are aged 60 and over or who have an eligible disability will operate from 9am - half an hour earlier than in most parts of the country. From 1 April these concessionary bus passes will also allow holders to enjoy free bus travel anywhere in England during off-peak times. While off-peak will generally mean between 9.30am and 11pm Monday to Friday, or at any time on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays, Medway Council has agreed to retain a 9am start time for Medway residents who begin their journeys in the council's area. Cllr Phil Filmer, Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, said: “We are delighted we have been able to retain a 9am start for travel in Medway and we support the extension of free bus travel throughout England. "I know this earlier start is valued by many residents and the new scheme will open up many new travel opportunities for passholders. Medway Council has had to give active support to this scheme as the government has not provided anywhere near enough funding to support the new free bus travel arrangements.” Although free travel in London for people living outside the capital will only be available on bus services, many of these will allow Medway passholders to travel between 9 am and 4.30am the next day. New red and white passes will be issued throughout England from April. Existing passholders will automatically be sent a new pass using the photograph they have already submitted and do not need to supply a new photograph. The new passes will be posted from mid-March and should reach residents in time for the April start, but anyone who does not receive their pass by this time can continue to use their existing one during April, although this will only be eligible for travel in Medway and Kent. New applicants should apply to the council for a bus pass. There is no charge for the pass, but applicants need to supply a passport-sized photograph or an electronic equivalent. Pass holders who have difficulty travelling by themselves can apply for a pass that allows a companion to travel with them free of charge. Companion travel is only available for journeys which start in the Medway Council area and there will be a £75 charge for each companion pass from April. Details of bus times throughout England are available from the Traveline service on 0871 200 22 33 or by visiting www.traveline.org.uk