Delay could affect thousands waiting for new bus passes

Pensioners could have to pay for journeys as they await passes.
Pensioners could have to pay for journeys as they await passes.
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Pensioners who normally receive free bus travel may have to pay for their journeys due to a delay in issuing renewal passes.

Lincolnshire County Council says it is having to deal with 6,000 applications a month, rather than the usual 1,200-1,500 - and has warned that there could be a wait of up to 28 days for replacement bus passes to come through.

It has asked bus companies to offer people a ‘grace’ period allowing them to use recently expired passes if their new one hasn’t arrived for some reason.

The passes allow all eligible older and disabled people to travel free on off-peak scheduled bus services anywhere in England. In Lincolnshire, resident pass holders can also travel free of charge on local journeys before 9.30am on weekdays.

Trevor Grant (79), who lives in Gedney, relies on free bus travel to get to Long Sutton and surrounding areas to do his shopping, pick up prescriptions and get to the doctor’s.

He said: “I had to wait five weeks from the time I put in the application until I received my renewal. It came two weeks after the expiry date.

“It will cause a lot of inconvenience for many people. To have a backlog like that should not have happened.”

Gareth Maddison, Principal Transport Officer for Lincolnshire County Council, said: “There are a lot of passes that are due to expire this year, and we’re dealing with up to 6,000 applications each month compared to the usual 1,200 – 1,500.

“In light of this, we have been urging people to apply as soon as they can to help spread the demand and reduce any delays. We have extended the period for renewals to six months before the expiry date to accommodate the increase in replacements.

“We are working through the applications as quickly as we can, but people should be aware that it can take up to 28 days to receive their new pass.”

Stagecoach East says it is still allowing travel and issuing a manual ticket to a customer, whose pass has recently expired, providing their application for a renewed pass has been sent in to Lincolnshire County Council.

Malc Wheatley, Operations Director for Brylaine Travel, said: “With regards to the delay issuing new bus passes for the Lincolnshire concessionary scheme we have been asked, along with all other operators, to allow a grace period of one month and we are happy to cooperate. Passengers affected may find that our smart card reader will reject their passes, but drivers have a manual alternative to register their journey.”