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A selection of your comments left on our website, Twitter and Facebook pages TRANSPORT bosses have warned the national free bus pass scheme for the elderly and the disabled is a financial "timebomb", claiming funding the scheme could lead to a 75% cut in spending on other transport services in 10 years' time.

Trevor Surtees said: "I don't see why people who are eligible shouldn't pay a small fare. Years ago it was 50p and no one complained."

Kenny Trainer agreed: "They should do what they do with the kids: 60p per trip or PS1.10 for an allday pass. Then they can travel whenever they want and not just go out specifically to catch the half 9 bus when it's absolutely heaving and making all the services late."

Ray Easom added: "Means test it for them to pay half adult single fare. The free pass has bred trend of 'one-stop wonders' - people just going very short distances of one stop. This holds services up. You can't get anywhere on public transport at around half 9 because every bus is packed with pensioners. There was a massive baby boom in the 1960s, those babies are now reaching retirement age. The government estimate between 2015 and 2020 there will be more people taking out of the pot than are putting into it, which means higher taxes and working till much later in life."

Roxanne Dotty Lockey disagrees: "The old and disabled shouldn't have to suffer. With their benefits being cut, this is their one way of being able to get out. They've worked a lifetime, paid their taxes.

Yes, some pensioners do receive more than others, paid into private pensions, received a good pay-off, or are wealthy already. But some are literally struggling. When you're older, after a lifetime of 'paying for others' won't you appreciate the little help from taxpayers in the future?" Gav Burn commented: "If they want a pass, they should pay towards it, like the Metro. I'm sure they will not miss the price of two loaves of bread to get a pass which give them unlimited travel. I'm all for pensioners getting out and about, but they are starting to abuse the system."

Samantha Easom said: "Old people are by no means poor. They get more a week than I earn. Their fuel allowance is more than enough to keep them warm throughout the winter months, they get free prescriptions, dental treatment and are subsidised at the opticians. When I am old there will be no help from taxpayers. If pensioners were living in poverty then I would be the first to say give them a break. But they always managed to get out when it was 50p a journey, so bring that back."

LN2Mag added: "I can't see how it costs money to let someone use an empty seat on a bus for free. If the seat is empty they are not making any money if the first place from it. They can only use the buses at certain times anyway, when they are less busy and therefore likely to have space on them."

TOP COMMENT Andrew Emmerson said: "I don't see why the vulnerable in society should be paying for a service like transport. When the benefits are cut and make it difficult to start with, why then do we need those people paying the small amount they are eligible for? The services are poor enough anyway, so don't switch the blame on to the old and disabled!"
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 3, 2012
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