Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Travel cuts on route to economic downturn

I WOULD like to support Councillor Adam Newton (Write Back, March 6) in his claim that it is "vital we protect free fares for old".

Abolishing them will almost certainly lead to older people staying at home, becoming increasingly socially isolated and then dependent on social care.

This will increase the burden on the whole community, so bus passes can be seen – even by those who only take economic considerations into account – as being a worthwhile investment.

Also, it should be noted that, without the subsidy from their bus passes (without which many OAPs would not travel at all), most bus routes would be uneconomic.

Yet their abolition would have a knock-on effect, since it would not be worthwhile for the bus company to maintain a fleet of buses and employ staff, in order to man them, for a couple of hours each morning and evening. In consequence, they would go out of business and public transport would cease to run altogether.

A case could be made for not giving passes to the mega-wealthy, but they probably never use them, preferring to travel in their Rolls Royces. In any case, it would be a bureaucratic nightmare to decide at what income-level they should be withdrawn, so, in practice, those on middle incomes would be the ones to lose out.

Those who wish to withdraw the facility might like to remember that they will become older themselves one day.

MARTIN D STERN

Salford, Greater Manchester

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