10 March 2015
A delegation of bus pass campaigners from the National Pensioners’ Convention and Campaign for Better Transport will be back at Downing Street at 3pm on Wednesday, 11 March, to deliver the second instalment of their Love the Bus Pass petition.
The power of the pen - 200,000 hand-written signatures from all corners of England will be delivered, with the aim to get the Government to maintain the older person’s bus pass.
Most have signed since last June after press coverage highlighted leading coalition politicians, notably Brandon Lewis and Nick Clegg, expressing serious doubts about the future of the pass.
Richard Worrall, Campaign Organiser, National Pensioners’ Convention said:
“The current legislation, dating back to 2008, requires all local authorities to take part in and fund the scheme, and what we are asking all parties to do is to commit to keeping the legislation exactly as it now is, and not to tamper with it in any way.Recent vague, grand-sounding pronouncements from parties and their leaders to the effect that they’ll ‘protect’ or ‘maintain’ the pass just don’t cut the mustard, and people shouldn’t be fooled into believing that such statements mean their pass is safe - they’re aimed at winning votes from the credulous, not at saving the pass.
“As and when we find that a party has got beyond the stage of making encouraging noises and has made a satisfactory commitment, then we’ll say so publicly.”
Martin Abrams, Public Transport Campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport said:
“For many people on the lowest incomes the free bus pass is the only way they can afford to get around. It is a vital lifeline which allows people to get to the shops, to visit family and friends and to access healthcare. It is essential to the success of our economy and our society that all political parties contesting the General Election on 7 May make clear and specific commitments to maintain the bus pass.”
Five out of the six-strong delegation are pensioners: Andrea Stanton, campaign co-organiser, and Jeanette Jervis, both from Walsall; Ron Douglas President of the National Pensioners’ Convention; Pat Turner of the Wessex Pensioners and Kitty Edwards from West Sussex.
- The non-partisan national campaign, which delivered the first instalment of the petition last September, is supported by the National Pensioners’ Convention and the Campaign for Better Transport, but organised and funded locally by its Walsall Branch and hundreds of individuals and grass-roots groups throughout England.
- Late last month, the campaign posted over 500 letters to English MPs asking them to state their and their party’s position on the future of the bus pass, and inviting them to come and support the delegation at the gates to Downing Street.
- The Walsall delegation will be using their bus passes to get from the Midlands to Westminster, with an overnight stay at St. Albans on Tuesday.
- The free England Bus Pass is officially known as the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS).
- Research shows that the bus pass offers excellent value for money. It contributes to a more active lifestyle among older people, with research finding that older people who used public transport had reduced their likelihood of being obese, a condition which costs the NHS over £10bn a year.
- Free bus travel also helps tackle older people’s biggest fear – loneliness. Research published in 2012 showed that older people felt that they had earned their bus pass and that using it made them feel part of everyday life.
- The NPC's main objective is to promote the welfare and interests of all pensioners, as a way of securing dignity, respect and financial security in retirement.