Disabled people in Portsmouth will be able to travel for free on buses at any time of day
A CHARITY has praised a new scheme that will allow disabled Portsmouth residents to travel for free at any time, and said it will 'promote independence.'
As of April 28 disabled concessionary passes will be valid for free bus travel all day, every day. Currently pass holders still have to pay for journeys before 9.30am.
For Portsmouth City Council's transport boss, Councillor Lynne Stagg, it was an 'important' change. 'I'm delighted to have been able to make this change to our concessionary travel scheme so disabled pass holders can travel on buses at any time,' she said.
'A lot of disabled people have contacted me saying how important it is to them to be able to travel earlier in the morning and this change will make a real difference to them and their ability to get jobs.'
The move was welcomed by the Minstead Trust, which supports more than 75 adults with learning disabilities in Portsmouth.
Madeleine Durie, the chief executive of the charity, estimated that around 20 people supported by the trust use the local buses every day.
She said: 'We fully supports the recent announcement that disabled bus pass holders across Portsmouth will get free journeys at any time of the day from April 28. This change means we will be able to support more people to become more independent.
'This latest development will make a significant difference to the impact we are able to make throughout the local community, educating individuals through our travel training programme.
'Using public transport more frequently will enable our service users to improve their independence and arrive at our sessions at 9am when we open, rather than being reliant upon the charity-run minibus or waiting until after 9.30am for morning bus services. All this means that they will be able to benefit even more from the services we and the city can offer.'
She added: 'We hope all councils throughout the UK will subsequently follow suit by offering free transport to disabled bus pass holders in their area, helping to continue the push to improve community accessibility nationwide.'
The change to the scheme applies to disabled concessionary pass holders, all other concessionary travel passes remain the same.
It will cost the council around £37,500 a year to provide the free travel, which will come out of the traffic and transport portfolio budget.