Local residents are asked to give their views on the proposed changes to the concessionary bus pass scheme in Dorset.
The six week consultation is now open, and Dorset County Council is keen to hear from people who use the scheme, or may be affected by proposed changes.
The county council currently subsidises the scheme which allows bus pass holders free concessionary travel before 9.30 am on services where the next bus is not until after 10.30 am. Free all day travel is also available for blind and partially sighted pass holders.
There is an additional companion scheme which allows individuals with certain disabilities the option of having a companion travel for free within Dorset.
Concessionary pass holders from East Dorset are also granted free all day travel when starting their journey in East Dorset. This is an enhancement funded by East Dorset District Council for its own residents with a valid concessionary pass, and no changes are proposed.
For the rest of Dorset, the proposed changes would mean concessionary bus pass holders would not be able to travel free before 9.30 am on weekdays. No changes are proposed for the partially sighted and blind, who would still be able to travel free any time. The companion scheme for people with disabilities would still continue. Concessionary holders would still be able to travel any time of the day weekends and public holidays.
By ceasing to provide free concessionary travel before 9.30 am, savings would be made that could enable the county council to focus financial resources more effectively. The changes will also allow for the wider use of schools transport routes for public services. Following on from the results of this consultation, changes will be implemented to the service in April 2017.
Cllr Peter Finney, Cabinet member for environment, said:
“The proposals to remove some subsidies on Dorset’s concessionary bus pass scheme are the latest in a long line of savings we are having to consider as a result of the unprecedented cuts in Government funding. Dorset County Council would continue to offers its residents a concessionary scheme over and above the national scheme, but the level of cuts we face mean we have little option but to consult on removing subsidised travel before 9.30 am.
“The proposed changes will help to make the financial savings required to ensure as much funding as possible remains available to fund local bus services. If these changes are not made, it is likely to reduce our capability to support bus services across the county. This may mean more of Dorset’s bus routes and services are withdrawn in the future.”
The consultation runs until Friday 13 January, and the council is particularly keen to know how you would be affected if proposals go ahead.
You can complete the questionnaire on-line.
Alternatively, hard copies are available at your local library and from the main reception of County Hall, Dorchester.