Ring and ride hit by free bus pass scheme

PUBLISHED: 12:39 16 September 2008 | UPDATED: 22:19 15 June 2010

A COMMUNITY transport service in Honiton has had to adapt to avoid cutbacks following the introduction of the new free bus pass scheme.

A COMMUNITY transport service in Honiton has had to adapt to avoid cutbacks following the introduction of the new free bus pass scheme.Honiton and District Ring and Ride, which is not part of the free travel scheme, is opening up its weekly shopping and day trips to all following a drop in fare revenue. Neil Hurlock, manager of TRIP Community Transport Association, said: "I can quite understand people choosing to use their passes, but the resulting drop in fare income has not been compensated for by anyone and we are still expected to travel long distances around rural areas, on less money, to collect those people who cannot take advantage of the pass. The free bus pass cannot be used on ring and ride services due to a national government decision."Mr Hurlock says local and national groups feel the free bus pass scheme is discriminating against those people who are unable to use public transport, either because they live too far from a route or are physically unable to reach a bus stop through disability."The pass works well in an urban area with lots of bus routes running through it, but in a rural area, where you might have to walk miles down a narrow lane to reach a bus stop, it has little value," he told the Herald. "As usual, the city-based politicians seem to forget that not all people live in urban areas."Announcing plans to let the wider community take advantage of weekly days trips, Mr Hurlock said: "The plan is to enable people to not only get their shopping locally but also enable them to enjoy weekday trips to places of interest - places they cannot easily reach by public transport - and trips to the cinema or theatre and combine this with lunch or afternoon tea. We would welcome any ideas on places that people would like to visit."The ring and ride service started pilot services last year, which have proved popular."We will continue to give local people a chance to have a good day out," said Mr Hurlock. "As a new idea we have had discussions with a local cinema to arrange a special rate ticket for our passengers including a free cuppa!"To find out more or to make a destination suggestion, call (01404) 46529.

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