Support for rural bus pass users in Gloucestershire

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Plans are being considered to allow concessionary bus pass users in isolated areas of Gloucestershire to travel for free before 0930.

Over 60s and eligible disabled people who live in areas where there are no buses between 0930 and 1030 will be able to use their pass before 0930.

A Gloucestershire County Council spokesman said infrequent services made accessing some services very difficult.

"We have agreed this scheme to ensure people are not isolated," he said.

At present the government funds a statutory scheme which allows pass holders to catch the bus for free between 0930 and 2300 on weekdays and all day at weekends and bank holidays.

To provide this service to the 102,000 people in Gloucestershire who qualify, costs the Conservative-led administration £5.9m.

It has to use £500,000 of council funds to top-up the £5.4m it receives from the government.

"Originally, the council was unsure if it could afford to pay for any enhancements to the statutory scheme, but funding has now been allocated to cater for people in isolated communities," the council spokesman added.

"Funds are extremely limited but the council is committed to protecting the most vulnerable people in society..."

The decision on whether to provide the extra funding is due to be made at a cabinet meeting on 21 March. If approved it will become policy from 28 March.

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