Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has agreed to increase the charge for people with a disabled NoWcard to travel at peak times on weekday mornings from 50p to £1.
The mandatory national concessionary travel scheme allows holders of a disabled persons pass to travel for free between 9.30am and 11.00pm Monday to Friday, and all day at weekends and bank holidays.
Councils which operate the scheme locally have discretion to offer further concessions outside these times.
Lancashire County Council’s NoWcard scheme allows holders of a disabled person’s pass to travel at a 50p flat fare on journeys on local buses, which begin before 9.30am on Mondays to Fridays. There has been no increase of the 50p charge for over 10 years. Further work will now be carried out with partner councils and bus operators to introduce the increased change over the coming months.
The cabinet received a report on the outcome of public consultation which received 179 responses, with 53% of respondents saying they have a current disabled person’s NoWcard. Of these, 29% said they had used their card to travel before 9.30am on weekdays on all or most weekdays in the last year, with 16% saying they had used their card a few times a week. 49% of respondents disagreed with the proposal, and 42% agreed with it.
County Councillor Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Like many councils, we are facing an extremely challenging financial position, with a forecasted funding gap of £144m in 2021/22.
“We’re committed to providing the best services we can, particularly to the most vulnerable in our communities, which is why we offer a concession to disabled NoWcard holders to travel outside the times mandated by the national scheme.
“Increasing the charge to travel before 9.30am on weekdays from 50p to £1 will still offer a concession while helping us to reduce the pressure on the budget.”
The NoWcard scheme is operated in partnership with Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool councils but the change will only affect holders of Lancashire County Council issued disabled NoWcard passes at the current time.