Leicestershire's elderly may pay more for bus travel

Image caption, The report recommends asking passengers for their views

Elderly and disabled people in Leicestershire could lose out on some free travel when the county council takes over funding next year.

The council is due to decide on whether to take on the £500,000 needed for extensions to statutory free travel.

District councils currently fund or subsidise the extra elements, such as early morning bus journeys and local rail travel for the over 60s.

A report is due to be discussed by the county council next week.

The report recommends a public consultation on the possible changes with a final decision due in February.

Rail travel

Funding for concessionary travel is being moved from the county's district councils to Leicestershire County Council in April 2011.

Concessionary travel will remain available to anyone aged 60 or over and to those with disabilities and allows free travel between 0930 and 2300 GMT Monday to Friday, and weekends and bank holidays.

The extra elements include taxi vouchers for those entitled to free travel without access to a bus route, half price local rail travel for the elderly and free rail travel for disabled people.

Elderly and disabled people are also entitled to free or subsidised bus journeys before 0930 GMT.

Lesley Pendleton, county council member for environment and transport, said: "We recognise that concessionary travel is important and are committed to providing a scheme in Leicestershire.

"In these difficult economic times, we need to plan ahead to make sure that this not only meets people's essential needs but is as cost-effective as possible."

Tony Donovan, the executive director of Age Concern for Leicestershire and Rutland said the charity would be objecting to any reduction in funding.

He said: "It's a very sensitive area and one which the elderly feel very strongly about. They rely on bus travel."

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