I’m writing to invite Express readers to back the “Love the bus pass” campaign, which is supported at the English grassroots by many people and groups and by the National Pensioners’ Convention.
Strictly non-partisan, it aims to get all parties to pledge in advance of May’s General Election that, if they’re in power, they will retain the England concessionary bus pass for older people, blind and disabled people as a statutory universal entitlement free at the point of use.
Last June I wrote to most local and regional newspapers in England inviting readers’ support.
In just three months, 110,000 pen-on-paper signatures were collected - testament to the widespread fear about the future of the bus pass and the huge influence of the local press in their communities. Many thanks if you were part of that.
Added to others we’d collected earlier, we dropped the first batch of 153,247 at 10 Downing Street on September 10th. I’m now asking for readers’ help to add 100,000 by March to make a total of 250,000 delivered to No 10.
To date, no political party has made a clear and unequivocal commitment to retaining the bus pass in its present form. I have letters from Baroness Kramer at the Department of Transport and from the office of the leader of the opposition, both sympathetic but neither making the clear commitment we seek.
In fact, high-ranking Coalition politicians began to call for “reform” as early as 2011, starting with Eric Pickles’ protégé, Brandon Lewis - since fast-tracked to ministerial office - who wrote in “Conservative Home” that the scheme had never been affordable, albeit this was something his party hadn’t wished to come out with before the 2010 General Election for fear of alarming voters. Ditto 2015?
Nick Clegg then called for a ban on millionaires joy-riding on buses for free, which would save next to nothing - millionaires taking few, if any, bus trips - but is a neat way of destroying the principle of universality and introducing means-testing.
We simply must ensure all politicians understand that they attack the bus pass at their electoral peril!
Readers may request petition forms and more information by email (email@example.com), phone (give or leave your name and address on 01922 641084) or post (46 Winn House, Walsall, WS2 8NW).
Love the bus pass