Free travel any time of day and night for concessionary bus pass holders to continue
Concessionary bus pass holders will be able to continue to benefit from free travel in Cornwall at any time of the day or night, the Council’s cabinet has confirmed.
The decision follows a consultation about the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) which gives eligible older people and people with disabilities free off-peak travel on local bus services throughout England.
Cornwall offers free travel at any time, unlike many other local authorities.
Councillor Connor Donnithorne, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for transport, said: “We recognise and understand how important these bus passes are to our older and disabled residents and how important it is that they are able to access things like medical appointments, work and to see friends and family.
"Making the decision to fund the 24/7 provision reflects the value we place on supporting our residents.
“However, with increasing demands on services and budgets, we have had to consider all the non-statutory services we provide.
“It was important we gather the views from those who would be affected, and I’d like to thank all those who took the time to respond and make their views known.
“Following the consultation, it is clear the benefits to residents’ health and wellbeing outweigh the relatively small savings we would make. And with more than 1,000 respondents telling us that changes to the current system would mean they shifted to traveling by car, we must consider the impact on our environment.
“Giving concessionary bus pass holders access to free bus travel at any time in Cornwall is another example of our commitment to giving residents more options for making sustainable travel choices and cutting Cornwall’s carbon emissions.”
During Wednesday’s meeting, Cabinet also voted to approve plans for free travel for care leavers up to the age of 25.
The decision follows a successful pilot run in Cornwall by the charities Barnado’s and Carefree which highlighted a range of benefits including improved mental health, better access to work, training or study, getting to appointments and reducing isolation.
Barbara Ellenbroek, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for children and families, said: “One of the priorities that underpins everything we do here at the Council is to make sure Cornwall is a brilliant place to be a child and grow up, and this means making sure care leavers have the same opportunities as everyone else, without being hampered by expensive travel costs.”
Sarah Crawley, Director of Barnardo’s South West, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Cornwall Council has become one of the first local authorities in England to offer care leavers free bus passes, it will be life changing for young people who can often feel lonely and isolated.
“Barnardo’s launched its Transport for Freedom campaign last year asking for all care leavers in England to have access to free bus travel, because young people themselves told us of the huge impact it can have on their lives, being able to travel to meet up with friends and family.
“It also opens up opportunities to further their education, take up employment opportunities and gives them the freedom to shop where they want, rather than have to rely on expensive convenience shops.”
Jo MacQueen from Carefree, said: “The positive impact of free bus travel for care leavers in Cornwall will enable them to access opportunities that we want for all young people to have a good life. Carefree is proud to be working alongside Cornwall Council and Barnardo's to effect real change locally."