A disabled MP is attempting to introduce new legislation that would extend free travel concessions in England to disabled people who use community transport services.
Paul Maynard, the Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, said extending the concessionary scheme was a matter of “human dignity”.
The scheme provides disabled people and over 60s with free off-peak travel on local buses and some other forms of public transport.
But the free travel does not usually apply if the user needs to use community transport – such as a dial-a-ride service – because of their mobility impairment.
Maynard told MPs: “To me, that imbalance seems to be not only unfair, but contrary to the spirit of human dignity.”
He added: “I understand that many councils seek to subsidise travel for those who are disabled in various ways. However, not every council does, and with increasing budgetary pressures… I fear that fewer and fewer will.”
His bill follows a report by the transport select committee in August, which found that most local authorities in England had cut funding for bus services.
The report on the impact of government spending cuts on bus services in England – except for those in London – backed the government’s commitment to protect free bus travel for older and disabled people.
But it pointed out that the concessionary scheme does not apply to most of England’s 1,700 community transport providers, and called for a change in the law.
Maynard’s bill would amend the Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007 so that people with “complex mobility problems” who cannot access public transport could use their concessionary passes on community transport services.
The bill was introduced under the ten-minute rule, one of the ways in which backbench MPs can introduce legislation. Such bills rarely become law and are mainly an opportunity for MPs to highlight an important issue.
But Maynard said afterwards: “I am happy with the support the motion got from all sides of the house and I very much look forward to its second reading in February next year.
“This is a great step forward in bringing fairness and equality to many people who have thus far been denied what others take for granted due to disability or mobility issues.”
News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com