Axe set to fall on free train travel for old folk across South Yorkshire

Lisa Garner
Lisa Garner

Free train travel for pensioners and disabled people could be scrapped as South Yorkshire’s transport bosses make cuts.

Rail passengers will be hit from April 1 if proposals are given the go-ahead at a meeting this Thursday.

The news comes after the announcement South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive plans to scrap the city centre’s FreeBee service, and concessionary bus travel between 9am and 9.30am.

Axing full train concessions will be among money-saving proposals considered by the South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority to make up a £234,000 shortfall in the SYPTE’s budget for 2014/2015.

A SYPTE spokesman said: “Rail passengers will still have the opportunity to engage with the rail operators’ own concessionary travel schemes or national schemes such as Senior Railcard and Disabled Railcard, or choose to travel by bus at no cost.”

Pensioner Barbara Lamb, aged 70, and husband Terrence, 74, of Hillsborough, regularly use concessionary passes to visit their son and grandchildren in Leeds.

Barbara said: “This is going to affect so many people. Rail fares keep going up, so older people can’t afford the cost of travel on a pension.

“They’re saying we can still use our bus passes – but there are no buses to Leeds.

“We won’t be able to see as much of our grandchildren after this.”

Wheelchair user Patrick Robbins, aged 46, of Crookes, is among the disabled people to be affected.

He said: “I use public transport a lot and I don’t think it’s fair.

“Some disabled people work but there are a lot who rely on benefits and free travel to get around. Their families might not live close by.

“It is taking away their independence and targeting the most vulnerable people.”

Lisa Garner, 49, of Lodge Moor, left disabled following two brain haemorrhages, said her concessionary travel provided a ‘lifeline’.

She said: “They need to look at the budget again.

“It’s not that much money when you look at the budget but it’s going to make a lot of people’s lives a lot more difficult.

“My friend uses her concessionary travel to go all over by the train.”