Letter: Free bus passes - Should we have a Freedom Pass?

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Mr Dunsby’s letter entitled “Free travel scheme is flawed” (Harrogate Advertiser, August 11) raises several issues.

1. There is a strong inference in his correspondence that it’s people over 60 using “free” bus passes who are the main cause behind the decline of rural bus services. Are the numbers of “free” bus passes so great? The reality of the current situation is in in no small part due to the deregulation of the bus system in the 1980s, and the austerity measures introduced by the Conservative Government.

2. In his comment “the general tax-payers expense” and “…the ordinary tax payers expense – is flawed” could he explain what he means by, “general tax-payers” or “ordinary tax-payers”? In making such generalisations it appears he has taken no account that people over 60 have contributed all their working lives to the taxation system of this country and continue to do so.

3. Rather than proposing changes to the CBS system shouldn’t any Chamber of Commerce be encouraging the retention and growth of rural bus routes and services to aid rural economies? CBS users and tourists spend and, pay for, other services in local shops, pubs, restaurants etc. Tourism is a vital economic asset to all areas – urban and rural.

4. He claims savings are to be made if the “free” bus pass system was changed. He claims the current cost is: “£8 billion” nationwide, “£100 million in Yorkshire”.

Yorkshire is a big area. How did he arrive at those figures? How many people are over 60 in North Yorkshire?

How many people over 60 actually take up the CBS in North Yorkshire? How much money is reimbursed in North Yorkshire? Could he supply more information as to his sources?

5. Regarding his acknowledgement of the disparity between bus pass user and rail user discounts he is correct. In London, transport users have access to both bus and rail, with a pass called “Freedom Pass” is he advocating that the disparity between the rest of the country and London be removed from Londoners?

Or that over 60s in the north should be able enjoy the advantages of a Freedom Pass?

Michael Anderson

Thirsk