The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has announced his intention to extend the Women’s Concessionary Travel Pass. The move is said to offer thousands more women the opportunity to benefit from unlimited off-peak travel in Greater Manchester.
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Transport for Greater Manchester launched the Women’s Concessionary Travel Scheme pass (WCTS) in April 2018.
The commitment was made to help women most affected by changes to the state pension age in 2011.
Those affected found their retirement age increased at short notice, resulting in them needing to wait longer for pension-age benefits including their English National Concessionary Travel Pass.
From April 2018, approximately 14,000 women across Greater Manchester born between October 6, 1953 and November 5, 1954, who had seen the maximum increase of 18 months added to their state pension age, became eligible for the pass, Transport for Greater Manchester said.
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State pension age changes: The concessionary bus and train travel schemes could be extended (Image: GETTY)
State pension age changes: The scheme could be extended in Greater Manchester, if it’s approved (Image: GETTY)
Now, Mr Burnham is proposing to extend the Women’s Concessionary Travel Scheme pass further – with this being subject to approval by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).
Transport for Greater Manchester said that it would allow women in Greater Manchester, born between November 6, 1954 and April 5, 1955 to apply for a pass.
It adds that this group have seen an increase of 12 to 18 months to their state pension age.
The move would mean a further 5,750 additional women would be eligible for the pass.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “The changes to pensions caused a huge amount of stress, upset and worry to thousands of women across Greater Manchester.
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“My original aim when I launched the Women’s Concessionary Travel Scheme pass was to bridge the travel gap for thousands of women – a small step to address the pension issue, but I hoped, a significant one.
“However, I knew more people were affected by the change, and I’ve continued to work with Transport for Greater Manchester to see if there was a way to help more of the women affected.
“I’m very pleased to announce that we are intending to extend the pass to over 5,000 more women.
“It means fairer, accessible, affordable travel for more people in Greater Manchester and I hope it’ll make a real difference to these women.
“I know more women are affected, but I think it is right to help those I can, even if it’s not all. I have received no Government funding to help do this, but if I did then we could extend the scheme even further.”
Subject to budget approval at the GMCA on February 14, the extension of the scheme would begin in April 2020.
Women’s Concessionary Travel Scheme pass
This pass entitles the holder to free off-peak travel on all local buses, Metrolink trams, and train within Greater Manchester between 9:30am and midnight, Monday to Friday, and all day at weekends and on public holidays.
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However, it’s worth being aware that there is a fee for the pass, which is £10.
The campaign group Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) supports the principle of equalisation of the state pension age, but does not agree with the way in which the changes were implemented.
Following the news of the potential extension of the bus pass, a spokesperson for WASPI told Express.co.uk: “It has always been our position that bus passes for 1950s women are not the solution to the injustices we have experienced.
“In the face of the huge losses that WASPI women have suffered, bus passes would only alleviate a small percentage of our financial hardship.
“Whilst we are pleased to hear that WASPI women in Greater Manchester will benefit from this arrangement, we remain a single-focus campaign. Schemes such as this one, whilst welcome, will not stop us from fighting for a fair solution for all.
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“We will accept nothing less than the transitional state pension arrangements and compensation that we deserve.”
In England, a person can get a bus pass for free travel when they reach the state pension age for women, whether they’re a man or a woman.
Some people may be able to travel for free on public transport in certain areas, such as in London one they’re 60 – however this is only within London.
In Wales, a person can get a bus pass when they reach the age of 60.
People who live in Scotland or Northern Ireland can get an older person’s bus pass when they’re 60.