Extended hours to use concessionary bus passes comes to an end
- Credit: Archant
People with concessionary bus passes are now no longer able to use them on Norfolk’s buses before 9.30am on weekdays, after regulations relaxed during the coronavirus lockdown were put back in place today.
Holders of the passes, including older people and those with disabilities, can usually enjoy free travel between 9.30am and 11pm Monday to Friday and all day at weekends and on public holidays.
But, in March, as coronavirus lockdown started and fewer people were travelling, bus operators agreed to a temporary amendment to the concessionary travel scheme.
That meant concessionary pass holders could get free travel before 9.30am, allowing them to get to shops early and access limited supplies at a time when people were rushing to supermarkets.
However, Norfolk County Council has, through a delegated decision taken by Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, agreed to revert to the normal way of operating.
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With supermarkets now fully stocked and more online delivery slots available - and because more people are using buses to get to work - the council decided to end the temporary extension for use of the passes.
That means that, from today, concessionary bus pass holders cannot travel for free until after 9.30am. The change was initially due to revert back from Monday, June 15, but was pushed back a week.
Mr Wilby said: “We were happy to waive the rules when there was demand for this change in March, but it now makes sense to revert to the usual rules.
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“We need to reserve our rush hour buses for workers who need to travel then and social distancing rules mean there will be fewer seats available.
“Concessionary pass holders are still free to travel after 9.30am, for essential journeys.”
It has been mandatory for people using public transport to wear face coverings since Monday, June 15.
With the government urging people to consider alternatives to public transport, more than £650,000 has been shared out among bus operators in Norfolk to help them keep subsidised services running amid the coronavirus pandemic.The Department for Transport gave the COVID-19 Bus Services Support Grant to Norfolk County Council to allocate the cash, covering a 12 week period.