South Yorkshire ‘Freedom Riders’ train survey inspires fight to continue

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Protesters campaigning against cuts to travel passes for older people in South Yorkshire have carried out their own consultation on the issue and say they have found widespread support.

The Freedom Riders, led by Barnsley Retirees’ Action Group, have been railing against cuts to concessions after South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive removed free travel for those aged over 65.

The group carried out surveys, asking members of the public in Barnsley whether free train travel for the elderly should be restored, claiming they are ‘unhappy’ with the consultation carried out by SYPTE.

A total of 617 questionnaires was filled in, and the group says 609 respondents were in favour, and eight people against.

Of the 617 people who responded, 137 people were aged under 60, and six of those opposed the free travel being reinstated.

The survey found 544 people wanted ‘free travel at any time’ whereas 65 wanted it off-peak only, and the majority wanted free travel for both South and West Yorkshire.

BRAG secretary George Arthur said: “We are a small group. But look what can be achieved when people are asked their views about issues that they really care about.”

The group is also vowing to continue its fight to get free travel restored, after free train travel for the disabled was reinstated earlier this year.

Tony Nuttall added “Interest was phenomenal. People were queueing up to fill in the forms.

“The very high number wanting restoration of free train travel into West Yorkshire as well as in South Yorkshire is remarkable. It shows that older people strongly resent being ‘banned’ from travelling into West Yorkshire.”