Restrictions on the use of bus passes have been relaxed to help pass holders to take advantage of early morning shopping opportunities and medical appointments.
North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council have temporarily enhanced their National Concessionary Travel Scheme to enable pass holders to use services before 9am. Usually, passes cannot be used between 6am and 9am.
Some stores are now opening early specifically to allow older people to buy essential supplies. Older people are also among those most at risk from Covid-19, so fewer people in shops reduces the risk.
North Yorkshire County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said:
We fully support the Government’s recommendation that people avoid all but essential travel. The purpose of the decision is to enable older residents, those who are disabled and their carers, to use their passes for essential journeys and to take advantage of measures like exclusive early morning shopping opportunities being put in place to support them.
We expect a positive response from bus operators. We’re also aware that they, like many businesses, are facing difficult times, so this may go some way towards supporting them.
City of York Council Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Transport, Cllr Andy D’Agorne said:
This is a difficult time for everyone and we want to make this period as easy for people as possible. Therefore, we have decided to relax restrictions on bus passes to ensure older residents, those who are disabled and their carers are able to travel and take advantage of measures put in place by businesses to support them, for example early morning shop openings.
That being said, Government guidance is clear that only essential journeys should be made at this moment in time and we are urging people to take note of this, both for their own and others health and wellbeing.
We are working to support bus operators during this difficult period and I hope there will be a positive response to these measures and that this will help to support these vital services.
Any operator that wishes to do so can now accept English National Concessionary Travel Scheme passes before 9am. The temporary change applies to all journeys starting within the council boundaries of North Yorkshire or City of York.
Contact your bus operator to find out whether they are offering early travel to pass holders. More information on changes to council services in North Yorkshire, including bus passes, can be found at https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-service-disruption