Temporary free early morning travel for holders of the older person’s bus pass is to end on weekdays as some students, retail workers and keyworkers including NHS staff, access public transport from 15 June.
On 20 March, Portsmouth City Council temporarily granted holders of the concessionary bus passes free all day travel, seven days a week, to allow older people to access supermarkets earlier in the day. To make sure there is space on public transport for key workers and those needing to use it, the council will restart the free travel option for older person’s pass holders starting at 9.30am only between Monday and Friday.
The government has prioritised cycling, walking and driving as preferred methods of travel, and has asked people to only use public transport when necessary. However for some people this may not always be possible.
Both local bus companies, Firstbus and Stagecoach, have now introduced a mobile app that identifies when buses are full so people can plan their journeys. They are also providing a more frequent service in line with social distancing guidelines set out by the government, however this means a reduced capacity on each journey. Single deck buses can now only carry between nine and eleven passengers, with double-deckers holding up to 20.
Passengers are advised to plan their journey to avoid peak times and check with their bus company as revised timetables are in place. It is now compulsory for all passengers who use public transport to wear a face covering when travelling.
Cllr Lynne Stagg, Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transportation, said: “I’m pleased that we’ve been able to offer our concessionary pass holders temporary free all-day travel during lockdown.
“As social distancing measures continue, buses are running at a fraction of their previous capacity so it’s crucial that we help our transport partners in any way we can. By revoking temporary free early morning travel for older people on weekdays we can enable the students, retail workers and keyworkers, including NHS workers, who are returning, better access to public transport before 9.30am, when they need it most.”
Holders of the older person’s bus pass will still be able to travel for free between 9.30am and 11pm Monday to Friday and all day on weekends and on public holidays when starting journeys in Portsmouth.
In April councillors agreed to allow disabled pass holders to be permanently entitled to free travel before 9.30am within Portsmouth, following a consultation period.
To find out more about Portsmouth City Council’s concessionary fares visit www.portsmouth.gov.uk search older persons.