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Parliament: Bus Services Concessions

bus.jpgDeaf people in the UK are generally entitled to a free bus pass. In April, those living in England will be entitled to travel throughout England for free. Recently a question came up in parliament, in relation to mental health but the answer touched on the legal criteria for bus passes (which includes deaf people):

Bob Laxton (Derby North, Labour):

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations she has received on the withdrawal of concessionary bus fares for people with mental health problems as a result of the introduction of the national concessionary bus travel scheme in (a) Derbyshire and (b) other areas; and if she will make a statement.

Rosie Winterton (Minister of State, Department for Transport):

A number of representations about changes to local, discretionary concessionary bus travel schemes have been directed to my Department. This includes representations about Derbyshire's decision to continue to fund only elements of their local discretionary travel scheme.

The Transport Act 2000 sets out the eligibility criteria for statutory concessionary bus travel, covering any person who: is blind or partially sighted; is profoundly or severely deaf; is without speech; has a disability, or has suffered an injury, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to walk; does not have arms or has long-term loss of the use of both arms; has a learning disability that is a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind which includes significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning; or would, if he or she applied for a grant of a licence to drive a motor vehicle under Part III of the Road Traffic Act 1988, have his or her application refused pursuant to section 92 of the Act (physical fitness) otherwise than on the ground of persistent misuse of drugs or alcohol.

Local authorities retain the ability to offer discretionary concessions over and above this statutory minimum at their own expense, these including offering concessionary travel to other categories of people such as those with mental health problems.

Central Government are responsible for the England-wide statutory minimum concession which, from 1 April, is being improved to allow eligible people free off-peak local bus travel anywhere in England. We are providing £212 million to local authorities to cover the additional cost of this, and are confident that in total there is sufficient funding to cover the whole cost of this concession.

Anyone who has gone to a deaf event in the UK will know how conversation soon steers towards bus passes (even if the topic is something completely different) and becomes a running joke.

Ask the Readers:
Should deaf people even get free bus passes, and why? If we get a free bus pass, are we equal citizens?

Sources:
Hansard
They Work for You

See also:
Parliament: National Concession
UK Parliamentary Round Up 1

Elsewhere:
Expansion of free bus travel in England
Department of Transport: Concessionary bus travel: frequently asked questions
Welsh Assembly: Concessionary bus fares for the elderly and disabled
Scotland: Concessionary Bus Pass
Northern Ireland: DLA SmartPass

Comments (4)

If we get a free bus pass, are we equal citizens?

No I don't think so. If we DON'T get free bus passes, what happens? Communication breakdowns, most likely.

So, shouldn't bus companies try and sort out those communication breakdowns rather than giving out free bus passes? This is 2008, there must be a way.

This government is providing councils an excellent foil to stick to the minimum requirements and save money. It is reported that there is an explosion of people with mental health difficulties and I know my council don't have the mechanism or resources to assess whether these mental health problems have been alleviated during the concession card's issue period, which can be up to 5 years. It seemed that the new guidelines made Derby City Council to withdraw train travel too. I think free travel should be issued to unemployed Deaf people or anyone in voluntary/unpaid/low paid employment.

My last sentence was in reference to Jen's last paragraph if there is a solution to comm breakdown.

"or anyone in voluntary/unpaid/low paid employment" - do you mean anybody DEAF in this position Tony?

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