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Stopping free bus passes will hurt UK; Mailbag letters also appear online at Mailbag.

SO, Barry Burgess (Letters, January 26) thinks that pensioners "should be stripped of their free bus passes", and that "this would save the economy an enormous amount of money."

While recognising that the initial offering of this bus pass might have been flawed by being available at age 60 this was, after all, initiated by those clever folk down in Whitehall and I don't mean the transient elected crowd. They did have reasons and justifications.

What I would ask is that Barry and his ilk actually "think" about this issue rather than coming up with some single minded idea of a perceived perk.

There are two issues - the benefit to the pensioner, plus the very real matter of impact on the economy. Let's leave out the contentious, political matter of such things now being a vote issue.

The pensioner bus pass provides the ability to get out and about and preserve some degree of independence. The opportunity to shop, meet people and conduct your own affairs should not be disregarded.

Indeed, such things can help preserve both physical and mental well being, surely no bad thing.

The grey pound is a major contributor to the UK economy and should never be disregarded.

Pensioners who struggle with limited income should not be cast aside and neither should those who might be a little better off.

Consider the consequences. Bus services would be curtailed, even disappear, as operators see empty buses during off peak times.

Take away the elderly traveller and it would hardly be efficient to offer a service for a few young mums.

Lost income for operators would certainly question the viability of public transport. As for the idea that "most have a car", what a short-sighted, ill-informed view.

Yes, pensioners do have cars, but using a bus pass does mean a possibly more ambitious journey or, in some cases, continued ownership of a vehicle. Pensioners with bus passes means Huddersfield town centre, as well as other urban centres, has at least some activity and footfall. It may not always involve big spending, but I would strongly suggest that several businesses would have to call it a day if bus passes disappeared. With Huddersfield's poor car parking facilities, it's unlikely there would be compensation by the few simply reverting to their cars. Of course, many out of town businesses would probably not exist without the midweek grey pound, so the economic consequences are not all about towns.

There are other issues that highlight the contribution of an active pensioner population, not least being that of family childcare and possible financial support for children and grandchildren. I would contend that any undermining of our retired community would have far greater impact than the "enormous amount of money" allocated for bus passes. It might be about maintaining personal well being, but it also is a recognition that a generation has already contributed and continue to do so.

Contrary to the limited 'thinking' I would suggest the economy might well collapse more than it has already done if bus passes are seen as some sort of liability.

JOHN PROCTER Birchencliffe
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jan 29, 2013
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