Bus pass move is applauded

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A Ballasalla resident has applauded the concessions on bus passes announced recently by the government.

Peter Jordan, who moved to the island from the UK in the summer, said it was important for people to know what costs to expect when they retired and he was pleased to see the changes which have now been made.

‘When I moved over here I took account of the expenses such as higher energy costs and not getting free prescriptions at over 60 as I had in the UK. Having a free bus pass influenced where I decided to buy a house but then suddenly they said people would not get free bus passes until they were 65 or state pension age,’ he said.

Changes to pensioners’ concessionary travel were announced this autumn as part of a host of measures designed to raise £5 million for the Department of Infrastructure. Other measures which met with objections include parking charges for the promenade walkway in Douglas, reduced waiting times in the reverse parking on the promenades, a £25 fee for residents’ parking permits and charges for school bus travel.

Free bus passes will now be phased in gradually over a period with eligibility rising to 65 by 2023. Concessions have also been made on school bus fares, down from 50p to 25p, parking on the promenade walkway, with free periods on Thursday evenings and Saturdays in the run up to Christmas, and waiting times for disc parking staying at two hours rather than cut to one.

The backtracking on bus passes brings the island roughly in line with many UK cities, such as Manchester, where the measure is being phased in.

Mr Jordan, who is 62 in February, said the passes have an impact not just on shopping but on charities which rely on volunteers who are often retired. He also questioned why an annual season ticket was offered on the island’s railways but not on the buses.

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