Users of Reading’s concessionary bus pass system are being reminded that they will have to wait until 9.30am to use them from April 1.
Reading Borough Council said that budget pressures is forcing them to change the scheme and from this date the passes are valid between 9.30am and 11pm daily. Disabled bus pass users are not affected by these changes.
And bus users who have a pass to get to football or rugby games are being warned that the concessionary passes will no longer be valid on these services.
There is no change to weekend or bank holiday bus services – bus pass holders can use these services at any time.
Reading Borough Council said that it has made more than £65 million of savings since 2010 but another £42 million needs to be identified by 2020. The removal of the Council’s concessionary fares subsidy is one of the difficult decisions it is having to make to help close the budget gap.
Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said: “For many years this Council has offered Reading residents a bus concessionary scheme over and above the national scheme, meaning pensioners could take advantage by boarding busses from 9am, instead of 9.30am. The removal of the Council subsidy, reluctantly announced last year, means the Reading scheme will soon replicate those offered other in other local authority areas where no Council subsidy was provided.
“It means concessionary bus passes in Reading will no longer be able to be used before 9.30am on weekdays. It is important regular and occasional bus passengers know that well in advance, so they do not get caught out come April 1st when the change comes into effect.
“I would stress that there are no proposed changes in Reading to the issue and acceptance of Access Passes for disabled persons’ bus travel, which will continue to be valid at any time.
“Government funding for Reading will have been cut by more than £57 million between 2011 and 2020. The reality is subsidies like the one the Council offered for concessionary fares, are no longer possible in the face of the severe, increasing and unprecedented Governments cuts.”