Age UK London's response to the temporary suspension of free travel for Older Person’s Freedom Pass and 60+ passengers
Published on 04 June 2020 04:36 PM
Age UK London have expressed profound disappointment in the changes set out by Transport for London today to temporarily suspend Older Person’s Freedom Pass and 60+ Oyster photocard travel concessions at peak times (04:30 to 09:00).
In setting out the change, which will apply during weekdays and take affect from Monday 15th June, Transport for London has again failed to adequately acknowledge older Londoners with no choices available to them about when and how they travel. London has the highest pensioner poverty rate in the country and many of those hardest hit will already be on low incomes.
Older Londoners have told Age UK London that they will travel with extreme caution as London recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and many have said that they will avoid public transport entirely. Whilst the suspension of concessions will make only a limited impact on crowding it will have a grave impact on those with no choice but to use early morning public transport. Older Londoners reluctantly taking early morning journeys are only making them because they have no alternative.
Age UK London is particularly concerned about the impact on older Londoners that have early morning medical appointments. Many appointments will be rearranged from earlier in lockdown and delays will already be a source of great anxiety.
Walking and cycling is being encouraged as an alternative. Whilst this will be a suitable option for some it is not a realistic option for many.
London’s charities on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, including 23 local Age UKs, are facing unprecedented challenges and many rely on older volunteers that use public transport so they can support vital services throughout the day.
Age UK London is pleased that Disabled Freedom Pass holders will still be able to use free travel. Older Londoners with disabilities are being encouraged to apply for a temporary Disabled Freedom Pass but this will be very difficult many people, particularly those without internet access.
With just 10 days until changes coming into effect we are concerned that many people including those that might only check their emails at the library, will not be aware of the changes until it is too late exacerbating the stress that many taking essential journeys already feel at this time.
Age UK London CEO, Abigail Wood, says:
“Older Londoners are among the most responsible travellers in the capital. People are not getting on a tube train or bus at 7am to make social trips, they will be doing so because they have no other choice - for example key workers with shifts starting before 9am. Accessible travel can transform lives and we are very concerned that there is no indication about how long the suspension will last”