Free bus pass scheme proves a lifeline for elderly
PUBLIC transport has been described as a "lifeline" for many older people in Swansea.
Speaking on the 10th anniversary of the free bus pass scheme for over-60s in Wales, Swansea Council's cabinet member for place, June Burtonshaw, said the initiative gave people peace of mind in knowing that they could visit friends or attend medical appointments without having to worry about cost.
Almost 60,000 concessionary passes have been issued across the city and county of Swansea since they were launched in September 2002.
To celebrate the milestone, John Richards from Colwyn Bay has hopped on a bus and is circling the country, stopping off in Swansea on Thursday — he undertook a similar trip when the scheme was originally launched a decade ago.
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Councillor Burtonshaw said: "I want to congratulate John on his awareness-raising efforts.
"Swansea Council has a strong commitment to supporting public transport because they are vital services for the elderly and others who can't afford to run a car or aren't able to drive.
"It is not an overstatement to say public transport is a lifeline for many older people in Swansea.
"The over-60s bus pass gives people peace of mind that they'll be able to go shopping, visit friends and attend hospital appointments without worrying about the cost."
Mr Richards's five day tour takes him to Rhyl, Denbigh, Wrexham, Dolgellau, Aberystwyth, Machynlleth, Newtown, Brecon, Cardiff, Swansea, Llanelli, Carmarthen, Cardigan, Porthmadog, Bangor, and Conwy. The bus pass initiative — which allows free travel on registered local buses for the over 60s and all disabled people — sees taxpayers refunding the cost of concessionary travel to bus operators.
The scheme will cost some £213 million from 2011-14.
Welsh Government Minister for Transport, Carl Sargeant, said the scheme has made a great difference throughout the country for the last ten years.
He said: "The free bus pass scheme has greatly improved the lives of so many people in Wales."
Since its introduction, it is estimated that more than 400 million journeys have been taken by concessionary fare holders in Wales.