OAP’s fury at bus pass charges

AN increase to the charge for replacing a bus pass has angered a Morpeth pensioner.

James Howard recently lost his card, which entitles him to travel for free on off-peak bus journeys under a national scheme that is operated in Northumberland by the county council.

He was in for a shock when he asked to get a replacement at the authority’s one-stop shop in Bridge Street, as he was told that the fee was now £15.

The 66-year-old, who lives in Abbey Meadows, said: “I couldn’t believe that the increase was so steep. It had gone up from £3.50 the last time.

“Anyone can lose a bus pass and it’s unfair to be penalised that much. I could have understood if the charge had gone up to £5, but for a lot of people over 60 it may as well be £100 because they can’t afford £15.

“I reluctantly paid the fee as I need to use a trolley to get about because of my disabilities, which makes the bus essential for me, but there are many others with similar circumstances who would be stuck if they lose their card.”

Within Northumberland, the county council extended the entitlement for older people to travel for free by bus. They can do so all day from 9am on Mondays to Fridays and all day at weekends and bank holidays.

Holders of disabled concessionary passes can travel all day, any day.

A spokeswoman for the authority said: “The cost of a replacement pass was increased to £15 firstly because the previous charge did not nearly cover the actual cost of processing and replacing one, and secondly because we found that people who lost their pass sometimes felt it was easier to get a new one instead of trying to find the old one, and this was a cost to council tax payers.”