DON’T take away our
lifeline - that is the plea from
Southampton pensioners amid
calls for transport chiefs to scrap
free bus passes.
A host of Daily Echo readers
have called for the scheme to be
revised or even axed, in favour of
saving loss-making services.
But elderly residents from
across the city have now hit back
at that suggestion, claiming that
taking away their passes would be
It comes after city council chiefs
gave the go-ahead to compensate
operators for carrying pensioners.
Civic bosses have rubberstamped
the agreement, which
will see the council hand over
almost £5m to bus companies for
ferrying around elderly passengers
during the next 12 months.
Hampshire County Council has
signed a similar £13m subsidy.
But as reported by the Daily
Echo, some readers believe the
scheme is to blame for operators
being forced to axe certain
routes, with a number of correspondents
even calling for OAP
bus passes to be scrapped.
Pensioners from across the city
have condemned those calls.
Bitterne resident Mrs Lambert,
75, said: “We have worked all our
lives and paid our taxes. Why
shouldn’t we be entitled to free
travel in old age?
“I wouldn’t mind going back to
the way it was before, paying 20p
or 30p a journey perhaps, but not
having bus passes at all would be
catastrophic. They are a lifeline
for pensioners. It’s the only way
they can get out and socialise.
“All these people who don’t
want us to have a free pass forget
that they are going to get old one
day, and then they will want one.”
Another Bitterne pensioner,
who asked not to be named, said:
“These people don’t understand
how much these passes mean to
us. Most of us don’t drive and
buses are our only option if we
want to get out and do some shopping
or visit family.”
But Vanessa Roberts, a 65-yearold
from Thornhill, suggested the
scheme could be revised.
She said: “Perhaps it might be
better if pensioners were given a
limited pass, which they could
use on certain days or so many
times a month, rather than a
blanket thing for all pensioners
no matter how wealthy they are.
“I would rather see a divorced
single mum with two children get
a free bus pass, instead of a
wealthy pensioner.”
Prime Minister David Cameron
has promised that free bus passes
will be safeguarded until 2015, but
there is no guarantee that they
will remain in place beyond the
current Parliament.