Free bus passes cut on seafront

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TWO bus services in Scarborough are facing being axed from the Concessionary Fares scheme in a bid to save £240,000.

North Yorkshire County Council has launched a public consultation on proposals to end free bus travel for pensioners and the disabled on the bus routes.

The move has been set out in the hope of saving at least £240,000 as the council tackles a multi-million funding crisis after taking on the running of the county’s bus passes.

The two affected routes are Service 108 from the Sea Life Centre to the town centre and the 109 service from the North Bay to the Spa.

If the services are excluded from the scheme people will still be able to use them. However, pass holders will no longer be able to travel free using their bus pass and would have to pay the normal fare for the journey.

The bus pass system was handed to the county council on April 1 after the Government ordered for the responsibility to be passed from borough and district authorities.

The new structure will cost £10 million to administer each year, and though the Government has provided half of the money, the council is having to stump up the remaining £5 million.

Bosses at the council say they are targeting the services in Scarborough as legislation states “services operated primarily for the purpose of tourism are outside of the spirit of the mandatory national concession and should be excluded”.

Cllr Clare Wood, North Yorkshire’s executive member for Passenger Transport said: “The county council is proud to administer the concessionary fares scheme for the benefit of keeping mobile those who are elderly and disabled.

“However, the Government has left us with a £5 million funding shortfall which we now have to make up.

“The county council is looking carefully to cut costs across the whole range of its services and for this reason it seemed appropriate to look at the eligibility of retaining tourism services within the concessionary fares scheme.

“We hope the consultation therefore will give everybody a chance to comment on the proposal to withdraw these two seafront services from the scheme.”

The move has been met with disappointment by tourism officials.

Janet Deacon, the Scarborough and regional representative of Yorkshire’s tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Although we would be disappointed if the service wasn’t included in concessionary travel scheme, we appreciate that in these hard times tough decisions have to be made. We would hope that this will not impact on the visitor numbers in Scarborough as there will still be concessionary fare for people to get to the seaside resort.”

The consultations launched be the council regarding the planned cuts is inviting people to comment on whether or not they support the proposal to exclude these services from the concessionary pass scheme. The deadline for comments is Tuesday July 26.

Comments can be sent by email to enct@northyorks.gov.uk or in writing to Jan Davidson, Transport Concessions Manager (IPT), North Yorkshire County Council, County Hall, Northallerton DL7 8AH.