Devon County Councillor Stuart Hughes has called for a fair deal from Transport Minister Norman Baker in order to plug a £5 million funding gap caused by the concessionary travel scheme.
Due to changes in the legislation, district councils’ responsibility for the pass ends on the March 31, with Devon County Council taking over direct responsibility for concessionary bus travel within its area from April 1.
Devon has been handed £7 million of Government funding to operate the scheme, but it is expected to cost the authority around £12.35 million to run.
Residents who already have a national bus pass do not need to register with Devon County Council unless their circumstances have changed, because all national bus passes remain valid and their information will automatically transfer from the district councils. All new applicants living in Devon County Council’s area should contact the Concessionary Bus Travel team.
From April 1 the national bus pass will be valid for free travel throughout Devon County Council’s area all day on Saturday, Sunday, public holidays and from 9.30am to the end of service on week days.
The national bus passes will be valid for free travel before 9.30am in areas with infrequent bus services, where there is a journey on a service before 9.30am but none between 9.30am and 11am on that service. A current list of services where exemptions apply to the valid times is available on request from the Concessionary Bus Travel Team. These valid times will apply across the whole of Devon County Council’s area and on all bus operator networks.
A Devon companion pass will also be introduced from pril 1 and will be available on application to all eligible residents of Devon County Council. This companion pass will be issued to severely disabled resident national bus pass holders who are only able to travel by bus with the assistance of a travelling companion. The companion pass will be valid for free travel for one companion travelling with the disabled national bus pass holder and the same times as the national pass.
District companion passes issued by East Devon, Exeter, Teignbridge, Mid Devon, North Devon and West Devon will not be valid after March 31. District companion pass holders will be sent a letter explaining the change enclosing a Devon companion application form; other severely disabled residents can now apply for the Devon companion pass to be issued for the April 1.
Details and Devon companion pass application forms are available from the Concessionary Bus Travel Team.
Everyone living in Devon County Council’s area who is eligible for the national bus pass should contact the Concessionary Bus Travel team on 01392 383688 or 01271 383688 with any enquiries about concessionary bus travel in Devon fromApril 1. This includes East Devon residents who previously contacted East Devon District Council.