Reading Borough Council has made the decision to waive time limitations on concessionary bus fares for elderly residents in Reading during the Coronavirus outbreak. The changes come into effect from tomorrow (Sat Mar 21st)
It follows news that some supermarkets and shops are choosing to open early for the exclusive use of elderly or vulnerable residents, to ensure they have the food and other supplies they need.
Reading already provides free travel for the vulnerable (Access Pass Holders) without time restriction as a part of the discretionary elements of the scheme funded by the Council.
Elderly concessionary bus pass holders in Reading can currently only travel after 9.30am, in common with most local authority areas. The change being implemented by the Council means they will from today be able to use their passes at any time, in order to take advantage of earlier opening times.
Reading Borough Council fully appreciates the balance needed between adhering to the Government’s advice on social distancing for vulnerable groups in particular, and the need for elderly people to travel in order to take advantage of exclusive shopping hours.
Government advice is to avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible. This is strongly advised for people over 70, pregnant or who have an underlying health condition (social distancing guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults)
The Council would recommend that, where it is possible, elderly or vulnerable people should ask somebody they know and trust to pick up shopping for them. If not possible, Public Health advice is to only use Public Transport for essential journeys, which would include key workers getting to work and people getting to shops to buy food. The Council would strongly echo guidance about regular handwashing, particularly before and after journeys.
Councillor Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“The Council is doing everything in its power to support residents – and in particular vulnerable and elderly residents – at what is an extremely challenging time. This is a common sense decision which will mean elderly or vulnerable people in Reading have the option of travelling for free earlier, taking advantage of shops which are choosing to open early for them.
“Wherever it is possible elderly residents should ask somebody they trust to shop for them, but by waiving the time limit on concessionary fares we can offer a better option to those who cannot.”