Fare enough? Disabled and elderly offer to pay to stop child bus fare increase

A child single bus or tram fare will increase from 70p to 80p on 18 September
A child single bus or tram fare will increase from 70p to 80p on 18 September
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People with free bus passes have said they would rather scrap the free pass than see parents struggle to fund their children’s transport to and from school.

Denise Percival, 61, from Brincliffe, Sheffield, has offered to sacrifice her own subsidised bus travel to stop child bus and tram fares increasing by 10p, from 70p to 80p, on 18 September.

A child single fare will rise in price by more than 14 per cent

A child single fare will rise in price by more than 14 per cent

Mrs Percival owns a disabled person’s bus pass which allows her to travel for free at all times on buses, trams, and some trains across South Yorkshire.

She suggested that users of the Senior Pass or Disabled Person's Bus Pass could offer to give up their free travel to help reduce the child fare to 50p.

She said: “I think 50p is a price we can all pay- children, OAPs and me.”

Mrs Percival said parents with more than one or two children might struggle to afford the extra 10p per journey, and that letting children walk to and from school to save money “could be dangerous in the times we live in.”

The Senior Pass is a national initiative giving eligible people free off peak travel on buses across the country

The Senior Pass is a national initiative giving eligible people free off peak travel on buses across the country

“We all want our children and grandchildren to be safe.”

READ MORE: Anger at Sheffield bus fare rises for children

The more than 14 per cent rise is as a result of the financial pressures of an £8.5 million cut to South Yorkshire’s public transport budget, according to South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE).

Other bus users took to Facebook to support the idea that elderly passengers could help.

The disabled persons bus pass allows eligible people to travel for free at all times on buses, trams, and some trains across South Yorkshire

The disabled persons bus pass allows eligible people to travel for free at all times on buses, trams, and some trains across South Yorkshire

Diane Bowring thinks the Senior Pass, which gives free off peak travel on buses in England with additional concessions across South Yorkshire, could be scrapped.

“Why not charge pensioners a little bit instead? I'm sure most wouldn't mind!”

Sara Longford said her grandmother would not object if the Senior Pass scheme was cut either: “She would happily give up her bus pass if it meant kids prices would be reduced. Her words: ‘pensioners get their own money. Kids might have parents who are struggling to pay the bills, never mind pay extortionate bus prices."”

But Martin Roome said on Facebook that the new child fare is good value: “Still a lot cheaper than other places in the UK.”

Tony Nuttall, a member of the Freedom Riders campaign for free bus travel for older people in Barnsley, does not believe scrapping perks for senior citizens is the right move.

"It is a terrible idea," he said.

"I can understand their pain, but suggesting that punishing older people is the solution is not constructive. It doesn't help."

Mr Nuttall suggested that a combined protest of parents and older people against any kind of price increase or service cut would be more appropriate.

"We would gladly do that."

Until 1986 it cost 2p for children to travel by bus across the whole of South Yorkshire.

Victoria Greenwood, Senior Communications Officer for SYPTE, said: "Public consultation and Equality Impact Assessments were used to inform the policy choice. The 10p increase will provide a full year saving up to £1.6m."

Ms Greenwood said SYPTE "are not legally permitted" to make changes to the Senior Pass scheme because it is a country-wide government initiative.