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Concerns raised as concessionary travel rules reintroduced to help with social distancing

PUBLISHED: 18:41 19 June 2020 | UPDATED: 08:45 20 June 2020

From June 15 passengers boarding buses will have to wear face coverings Picture:  ADAM HOWLETT

From June 15 passengers boarding buses will have to wear face coverings Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

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Concessionary travel rules are being reintroduced on public transport to help bus companies implement social distancing measures during the busiest times of the day.

As more people return to work, public transport operators across the county face the challenge of meeting this extra demand, while ensuring adherence to Government guidance.

To help them do this during the busier parts of the day, concessionary travel measures which had been relaxed during lockdown, will be reintroduced from July 6.

Suffolk County Council say that the new measures will help bus companies “keep passengers safe” however opponents have said that the decision is “grossly unfair”.

Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Rural Affairs, said: “Now that more people are returning to their workplaces and children are going back to school, it is important that we take steps across the county to protect passengers.

“The relaxation of the concessionary travel scheme was a temporary measure to address the situation at the time.

The situation has changed, and we are now facing a new set of challenges. Therefore, “I urge people to only use public buses for essential journeys and to travel after 9:30am where possible.”

The Council and bus operators had agreed to relax concessionary travel rules in late March - allowing those with concessionary passes to travel on buses for free before 9:30am.

However from Monday, July 6 concessionary bus passes in Suffolk will only be valid Monday to Fridays from 9:30am to 9pm, and all day on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.

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Also, all passengers are now required to wear a face covering on public transport.

Jack Owen, Labour spokesperson for Highways, Transport and Rural Affairs called on the county to increase capacity on bus networks to help facilitate social distancing.

Jack Owen, Labour spokesperson for Highways, Transport and Rural Affairs called on the county to increase capacity on bus networks to help facilitate social distancing.

He said: “We understand the need for social distancing measures, but this is the wrong way to do it.

“The Tories should be looking to increase capacity on our bus network and not penalising the elderly passengers that rely on public transport as their only means of travel.

“Many areas of Suffolk have lost their local bus routes and the services that do remain are too infrequent and inconvenient, especially in rural areas.

“Under these rules, people in Sudbury and Great Cornard will not be able to use their bus pass on the 91 until 11.15am and will only reach Ipswich at 12.35pm, limiting the choices of when people can travel makes a bad situation worse.

“I hope the Tories show a bit of common sense and compassion by increasing the capacity on our bus networks and reinstate the relaxation of concessionary travel rules.”


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