Bob Ainsworth – Member of Parliament for Coventry North East – has criticised the Tory-led Government’s decision to withdraw the Coach Concessionary Travel Scheme, which could potentially cause a reduction in coach services in Coventry.
The Coach Concessionary Travel Scheme – which is different from the free bus pass scheme, but nonetheless very popular – provides half price coach travel for disabled people and those over 60 in England and Wales.
According to analysis undertaken by National Express, 52,700 passenger journeys which begin or end in Coventry are made using the half price concessionary fare. 52,700 is equivalent to 14% of all journeys which begin or end in Coventry.
Andrew Cleaves of National Express said:
“The scheme’s withdrawal could not only affect the ability of those currently eligible to travel, but also have a knock-on effect on the viability of some existing services which currently serve Coventry. A reduction in existing service levels would, of course, affect many more passengers than those who directly benefit from the concessionary scheme”.
“At a time when transport costs are rising, thanks to the government’s decision to allow eye-watering hikes in rail fares and increase VAT on fuel, the coach is a lifeline for many people and often the best value and most viable form of public transport available to them. The loss of a coach service can mean the loss of the opportunity to stay on in education or access employment, and can leave the elderly and vulnerable isolated.
“The Government has clearly not considered the full impact of the withdrawal of the Coach Concessionary Travel Scheme and they urgently need to work with industry to mitigate the impact of their decision on the most vulnerable people in society”.