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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 March, 2003, 15:20 GMT
End to 'sexist' bus fares
A London bus
Ministers are encouraging bus travel
The government has called a halt to outdated rules which force men in England to wait five years longer than women to qualify for a bus pass.

From 1 April, men between 60 and 64 will automatically receive half price bus fares for the first time.

Under current rules, local authorities are only obliged to offer at least 50% off fares to women from the age of 60 and men at 65.

The changes will apply in England only but should benefit more than a million older men.

Social exclusion

Local authorities will also be required to extend any other travel concessions they offer to women at 60 to men of the same age.

It is a bit of a lottery
Rhian Beynon, Age Concern England

Local authorities will be given an additional 50m to help them meet the costs of equalising this age of entitlement.

Transport Minister John Spellar said: "This is very good news for a great number of older men.

"Bus services are a vital means of linking communities and tackling the problem of social exclusion...I hope men who can now get cheap fares will use the bus more often or even try it for the first time."

The Transport Act 2000 introduced a minimum standard for concessionary fares.

Every local authority in England is now required to offer bus travel of at least half price to pensioners.

It is then up to each local authority if they want to offer further concessions - and policies can vary.

In London, for example, The Freedom Pass for older people gives free 24-hour access to London's tube, bus and tram services, and on national rail in London after 9.30am.

According to the Association of London Government, 125,000 men aged between 60 and 64 will be able to take advantage of the pass for the first time.

In Liverpool - another generous scheme - pensioners get free travel on buses, local rail and Mersey ferries after 9.30am weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday.

Rhian Beynon of Age Concern welcomed the extension, but said the scheme could still be a lottery

"The only nationwide standard is to offer half price bus fares, but it depends on where you live.

"In London you get the freedom pass and a much better deal than in many parts of the country. It is a bit of a lottery."

As policies can vary, the government recommends people to contact their local authority for details of concessionary travel in their area.




SEE ALSO:
Men to gain equal rights
10 Feb 03 |  England


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