Pass changes spark anger

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Hundreds of angry travel pass holders packed into a meeting to voice concerns over South Yorkshire transport cuts.

Elderly and disabled people who rely on free passes to get around on buses and trains face new restrictions from Monday, March 31.

They will no longer be able to travel for free on the train at all, or on buses before 9.30am.

George Arthur, of Barnsley Residents’ Action Group, which organised Saturday’s meeting at Barnsley Central Library, said: “The most affected are going to be disabled people because at the moment they can travel for free on buses and trains at any time of day. There are disabled people who have taken lower-paid jobs who will now have to pay to get to work –they’re effectively getting a wage cut.”

He said elderly people will also be affected as many of them use their travel passes to keep up a social life.

The 9.30am time restriction on buses mean they will have no time to make it to social gatherings like ramblers’ groups.

David Young, of the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, told the meeting the change had been delayed for as long as possible, with children and families taking the brunt of cuts for the last three years.

He said all other cost-cutting options including redundancies had already been carried out.

He said: “It gives me and the politicians no pleasure doing this, but with the big cuts councils are facing, it’s inevitable and unavoidable.”

Coun Roy Miller, a Barnsley Council cabinet member who sits on the South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority, said: “Some 30 per cent of the subsidy we have had before from the government has been cut.

“At the end of the day, I have to bring in a balanced budget.”