Press Release from Freedom Riders

Press release from Barnsley Retirees Action Group (BRAG)

With immediate effect

Freedom Riders Demand Full Return of Travel Concessions for Elderly

The South Yorkshire freedom riders are continuing their campaign for the full return of travel concessions for older people.  In April 2014 the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) axed free train travel in South and into West Yorkshire and put back the starting time for free travel on buses to 9.30am for both elderly and disabled people.  The freedom riders protested by travelling on the train with their passes and refusing to pay.  In June 2014, SYPTE did a U-turn, completely reinstating free travel for disabled people and introducing a half price train fare (In South Yorkshire only) for the elderly.  The freedom riders have campaigned ever since for the full reinstatement of the concessions for the elderly, arguing that older people need to get out and be part of the community. They predicted that older people would just not use public transport as much if charges continued.  The freedom riders have continued to achieve successes. Some of the smaller bus companies have introduced a flat rate £1 fare for travel before 9.30am, and discussions are taking place with the First bus company about them doing this as well. Stagecoach has introduced free travel to hospital for older people before 9.30am.The freedom riders were boosted in the autumn of 2016 when new Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn issued a statement of support.

Now the freedom riders have learnt that the SYPTE has an under-spend on its budget for concessionary travel in 2015/16 of £2million because of a “reduction in patronage”. This figure was revealed at the meeting of the South Yorkshire Transport Committee in Barnsley on 18th January.  Tony Nuttall, press officer for Barnsley Retirees Action Group, said “A number of organisations attended the Transport Committee and made the case that, as the original cost of the travel concessions was in the region of £600k, and some of that has already been re-instated, SYPTE is in a position to fully fund the travel concessions for older people several times over.”

Decisions on the budget for 2016/17, including for concessionary travel, are to be made by the South Yorkshire Combined Authority meeting on Monday, 1st February, commencing at 2pm.  This will be held at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, Brunel Way, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, S60 5WG.

The freedom riders and other organisations will be lobbying the Combined Authority meeting from 1pm and have asked for representatives to be able to speak in the meeting.

ENDS

More information:

Tony Nuttall 0775 883 6854 George Arthur 0798 5028 003

26th January 2016

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