Extended hours to use concessionary bus passes to end

A coronavirus concession that gave elderly residents free bus travel before 9.30am will come to an end next week.

Islanders with concessionary bus passes can usually enjoy free travel between 9.30am and 11pm Monday to Friday and all day at weekends and on public holidays.

But, in March, as part of the Isle of Wight Council’s response to the Covid-19 lockdown, the authority agreed a temporary amendment to the concessionary travel scheme.

That meant elderly residents could get free travel before 9.30am to make use of early morning slots set aside by supermarkets for older customers during the crisis.

However, now that supermarkets are more accessible, and with more people needing public transport for work and school, the council has decided to end the temporary extension from Monday, 29 June.

Island residents with disabled bus passes may continue to travel for free at all times.

Councillor Ian Ward, Cabinet member for transport and infrastructure, said very necessary social distancing measures meant capacity on bus services was considerably reduced.

He said: “We were happy to increase access during during lockdown to help our elderly residents make essential journeys for their shopping.

“At that time, there were also very few bus users due to many businesses and shops having to close.

“However, this is changing and as lockdown restrictions are easing and more businesses reopen, bus services need to be available for commuters who have no alternative but to use public transport to get to work and school.

“With supermarkets now fully stocked and more online delivery slots available, we need to go back to the original rules to help make this work.

“The elderly will also now be at a greater level of risk at peak times due to the increase in passengers. Therefore, it is recommended that should they need to travel they should do so during the off-peak.”