Posted by: westlancashirerecord | January 24, 2019

The £10 Free Bus Pass Robbery

It’s been eight years since the great robbery of the travel concession for elderly and disabled residents of West Lancashire took place. Who among us can ever forget the callous dismissal of the scheme that helped so many of us to retain our social inclusion?

Cllr D Westley wrote, 19th November 2010, “Please take the following in the helpful manner in which it is intended. You are wasting your time trying to convince the Borough Council to further enhance the existing provision for Concessionary Travel as it simply cannot afford to do so on a sustainable basis. You would be far better directing your efforts towards the County Council“. Arrogance personified?

And in due course we received the English National Bus Pass , issued by Lancashire County Council. It was useful if ever a bus happened to arrive, not so useful if you were using a wheelchair, as many of us were.

But progress has been made, buses can take wheelchairs, and the bus pass may help some of us. That depends on the efficiency of the pass itself. It seems that technology sometimes fails to match the valid pass, which is issued with facial, numerical, and expiry details. And it is a matter of fact that when the machine reader on the bus fails its function, bus drivers are known to refuse entry. Never mind the photograph, identity proved, the human factor of the immovable “I’m in charge” power takes over.

This recently happened to a friend of mine. The machine reader failed. But common sense DID prevail, as my friend has unique looks, which were enough for the driver to accept him, with a warning to change the pass. Having spoken to the LCC jobsworth who demanded the return of the pass with a £10 fee, it took a couple of weeks for the replacement pass to arrive.

So all was well, until it happened that a Liverpool citizen also fell victim to a refused pass. Being told, sorry, no free travel for you, said Liverpool citizen said no, you can see it’s me, take me to the Merseytravel Office bus stop so I can let them sort it out. This was agreed, and in the Merseytravel office the pass was found to be valid, and the aberration was explained thus “Some of our machines do fail to read some bus passes”. This led the aggrieved passenger to mention it on the Roger Phillips  show on Radio Merseyside to warn pass holders what could happen.

On hearing this, my local friend realised he had paid £10 for the machine reader failure. He contacted LCC to ask for a refund. So far he has been refused. It simply means that LCC is so inefficient they would rather take £10 off a pensioner than refund it. At least Dick Turpin wore a mask when robbing people! Or perhaps it’s simply greed? After all, haven’t we just been told by the Police and Crime Commissioner that state pensioners will pay 5% more for police pensioners? 


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