Fear over bus pass deadline

Elderly people applying for new free bus passes fear they may not meet the official deadline because of photographs.At the moment pensioners travel free of charge on local bus services in Norfolk using a pass which does not carry a photograph.

Elderly people applying for new free bus passes fear they may not meet the official deadline because of photographs.

At the moment pensioners travel free of charge on local bus services in Norfolk using a pass which does not carry a photograph.

But from April holders of a new bus pass with a digitised photograph will have the right to free travel on buses wherever they are, from Somerset to Skegness.

Five of Norfolk's seven district councils, which manage the scheme, are now writing to existing pass holders asking them to check details on an application form and provide a new photograph.


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Two other councils, Yarmouth and West Norfolk, have held drop-in sessions where people can turn up and have their pictures taken free of charge.

The deadline for the existing pass holders is on Friday December 14 and already there is mounting concern among pensioners in the five council districts will not be able to return the information by that date because of problems getting their photographs taken.

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Many elderly people do not know how to or do not want to use a photo booth so use a professional photographer, and now photographic studios are becoming flooded by elderly people concerned they will miss the deadline and their chance to have a bus pass.

Gordon Olley, owner of Breckland Photographic, said: “Have you ever tried using a photo booth? It's difficult for most people let alone the elderly.

“We're fully booked until the closing date. We're even having to open on our day off. When we tell people we can't fit them in they burst into tears.”

But a spokesman for Breckland Council last night attempted to allay fears: “Local authorities will replace all existing bus passes and issue the new cards in good time.

“People returning forms after the deadline indicated in the letter will receive the new cards but these may not arrive by April 1.”

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