YP Comment: Fair bus concession for the elderly

THE revelations that nearly a third of all bus journeys taken in Yorkshire are free concessions and cost the taxpayer £100m, will no doubt raise a few eyebrows.In North Yorkshire the figure is even higher with these concessionary fares for the elderly and disabled accounting for nearly half of all journeys. On the face of it this sounds like an awful lot of money to be spending on subsidised bus fares with critics arguing the numbers simply don't stack up at a time of major spending cuts.However, the biggest concern is that the elderly and vulnerable will be left in a situation where they have a free bus pass '“ but no bus to travel on. As Coun John Blackie, North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) member for Hawes, points out, this undermines the whole point of having such a scheme.But something has to be done. Local bus services are an essential lifeline for many elderly, vulnerable and disabled people '“ particularly those living in more rural areas '“ giving them a degree of independence without which they would be at risk of becoming more socially isolated which can, in turn, lead to other health problems.At the moment it is local authorities that are left with a funding black hole, which is why the Local Government Authority is right to call on the Government to stump up more funds and prevent local services being lost.Many of those eligible for free bus fares have worked hard their entire lives and paid their taxes. At a time when living costs are going up and interest rates are at a record low, hitting the pockets of many elderly people, this is something they can ill-afford to lose. But there is something else more fundamental at stake here. Surely any civilised society ought to be able to provide these vital public services for the elderly and vulnerable, otherwise what does it say about us as a nation?Olympic Spirit - time to get behind the Rio GamesHAS there ever been a more troubled Olympic Games? The build-up to Rio 2016 has been dominated by concerns over the Zika virus and the

Buses are a vital lifeline for many elderly people. (North Yorkshire County Council).

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