New countywide free travel scheme
ELDERLY and disabled bus passengers in East Cambridgeshire will be able to travel free across the county after transport chiefs thrashed out a new deal. The scheme, which also includes free park and ride, replaces one brought in by the Government which re
ELDERLY and disabled bus passengers in East Cambridgeshire will be able to travel free across the county after transport chiefs thrashed out a new deal.
The scheme, which also includes free park and ride, replaces one brought in by the Government which restricted passengers to free travel only in their own district.
Under the old system many over 60s and the disabled found themselves out of pocket when they crossed district borders.
Now East Cambridgeshire District Council has joined forces with other councils across the county to bring in the new countywide free travel scheme for over 16,700 people.
Bus operators have also played their part by agreeing to back the new scheme financially and it will be introduced by early October at the latest.
But the Government will not be giving the county any extra cash for the concessionary fares so Cambridgeshire County Council has agreed to cover any overspend.
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East Cambridgeshire District Council chief executive, John Hill, said: "East Cambridgeshire is one of the fastest growing areas in the country and it is extremely important that public transport improvements keep pace.
"This Government scheme was incredibly confusing and people saw it as more of a hindrance than a help. The district council is committed to improving transport which is why we have worked together with our fellow councils and the bus operators to agree this new scheme."
Transport chiefs and the public had criticised the Government imposed scheme for the confusing way it was financed and introduced.
Now all councils have agreed to carry on calling for the Government to implement a much fairer system when the scheme changes to a national one in 2008.
Cambridgeshire County Councillor John Reynolds, cabinet member for environment and community services, said: "I would like to applaud the district and city councils and bus operators who have worked with us to introduce this new scheme.
"The Government scheme was ill-conceived and has made many people worse off. Improving public transport is vital for Cambridgeshire's future prosperity and I am pleased we have all worked together to find a much better solution.