South Yorkshire Freedom riders to mark anniversary with rally

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A transport campaign group are planning to celebrate their fourth birthday with an anniversary rally.

The South Yorkshire Freedom Riders were formed when free local train travel was taken away from elderly and disabled pass holders in March 2014. Campaigners forced the passenger transport executive to back down after a few weeks.

The freedom riders voted to carry on the campaign, however, as they wanted to fight for free bus travel to commuters going to in Manchester, Liverpool, West Midlands and London.

Campaigner Tony Nuttall said: “We’ve won other real travel benefits for elderly people.

“Stagecoach will give free travel to hospital before 9.30am. They also give half price travel on the X10 service to Leeds.

“Other companies give reduced flat rate fares before 9.30am including TM Travel, Watersons and Yorkshire Tiger. We welcome the social thinking of these companies.”

The anniversary rally will take place on Monday March 26, the day that the group was formed four years ago, and also the same day as the RMT union rail strike.

Protestors will gather at Barnsley Interchange at 10.30 am for a short rally before travelling to Sheffield.

George Arthur, Freedom Rider secretary said: “We fully support the RMT campaign to keep guards on the train. It is a safety issue that particularly affects the elderly and disabled. We’re hoping for a big rally outside Sheffield station at 12.15pm.”

Speakers at the rally include Natalie Bennett, former leader of the Green Party, Tosh McDonald, President of ASLEF the train drivers’ union, Naveen Judah, National Health Action Party and Martin Mayer, secretary Sheffield Trades Council.