A successful trial of free early morning journeys, before 9am, to hospital appointments for Portsmouth City Council issued older person bus pass holders could lead to the council making this scheme permanent.

At the Transport decision meeting next week, the council will consider making permanent the current trial for earlier free travel, before 9am, for older person’s bus pass holders who have early morning hospital appointments. This will come in addition to Portsmouth already offering free travel for concessionary pass holders beginning at 9am, whereas nationally free travel for pass holders begins at 9.30am. During the trial over 1800 older people have benefitted from free journeys to the hospital. If approved this would mean these bus passengers will permanently have access to free bus travel when they need it the most.

The bus travel trial has enabled older residents to benefit from free bus journeys to reach Queen Alexandra Hospital or St Mary’s Community Health Campus before 9am. Eligible bus pass holders must produce evidence of a hospital appointment by showing a printed appointment letter, text message, or email confirmation to the bus driver. This has made it easier for people to get to important hospital appointments and helped to reduce travel expenses when money is tight for so many.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Cabinet Member for Transport, said:

“It’s important to make sure that our older residents can access free travel at times when they need it the most and this trial has shown that the national offering of free travel after 9.30am is not enough. I have spoken to many older person bus pass holders who would like to continue using the service before 9am and we will consider the plans to make this service permanent at the transport decision meeting”.

Older person’s concessionary bus passes issued by Portsmouth City Council for journeys starting in the city give access to the free service from 9am until 2am Monday to Friday and all day on weekends and public holidays. Outside of Portsmouth, the pass is applicable for free travel anywhere in England between 9.30am – 11pm, Monday – Friday, and all day at weekends and on public holidays, as part of the English National Travel Concessionary Scheme. Holders of a Portsmouth City Council disabled person’s pass can catch the bus any time of day in the city.

The Transport decision meeting will take place on Tuesday 30 January 2024.

For further information, please see the older person’s bus pass holder page.