— Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the County Council will end free bus passes after 9.30am. After seeking further clarification from the authority, The Lincolnite now understands the concessions will remain available before and after 9.30am. Changes have been made throughout the story to reflect this. Hat tip to readers James Bliss and Mark Lawley for their diligence.
Bus pass holders in Lincoln will be able to continue to travel for free before and after 9.30am, as the County Council takes over the concessionary fares scheme with reduced funding.
From 1 April 2011, the county council will become the concessionary fares authority for Lincolnshire, a role currently held by the City Council in Lincoln.
In the Comprehensive Spending Review, the government confirmed its intention to seek savings on the scheme, thought to be around £120million.
Existing cards displaying district council logos will remain valid until their expiry date, but the switchover is likely to bring other changes as well.
A change to the retirement age means people will have to wait longer to become eligible for a pass.
The change from pass eligibility at 60 moved up to 66 is managed through a transition process determined by the government.
Councillr William Webb, Portfolio Holder for Highways & Traffic said “There will inevitably be changes from the current system.
“We know that being able to use the passes before 9.30am is very important to people and […] we’ve been able to maintain this as part of the new arrangements.
“We will have limitations too, as local elements of the scheme must be paid for by the county council and our budget cuts have been well publicised in recent weeks.
“Some savings must consequently be made, including by streamlining the application process.
“It is intended to provide a postal application system, whilst still offering an in-person facility at City Hall in Lincoln which all applicants will be free to make use of.
“Work is also underway to offer an on-line facility by the autumn of next year.”