Published: 09:35, 16 May 2008
Disabled and elderly people should soon be able to use their bus passes from 9am after Kent County Council stepped in to provide extra money for services run by local councils.
The introduction this year of a national scheme to provide free travel on all buses for those over 60 and the disabled has seen many councils preventing passes being used before 9.30am as a way of cutting costs.
That has provoked complaints from many bus users, particularly in rural areas where services may be limited.
KCC, which co-ordinates the concessionary scheme involving all district councils and Medway council, has decided to use extra money provided by the Government to allow services to run from 9am.
The earlier start time is expected to come into effect from the end of June, with the help of an extra £120,000 coming from KCC.
Cllr Keith Ferrin (Con) KCC cabinet member for highways, said: “We realise it has been an extra burden for the district councils to carry this additional cost. I am pleased, therefore, the county council has stepped in to help some of our more vulnerable bus passengers with this decision.”
He added: “Making the pass valid from 9am will make a big difference. It will mean over 60s and disabled passengers will be able to go to hospital or doctor’s appointments earlier when they are most needed, and travel into town to shop at a more convenient time.”
An estimated 260,000 pass holders in Kent stand to benefit from the earlier start time.
Medway council decided in February to revert to a 9am start but all other councils have continued to operate concessionary services from 9.30am.