New research by Dudley North MP Ian Austin shows thousands of over-60s in the West Midlands are missing out on free bus travel provided to their counterparts elsewhere in the country.
Residents of Scotland, Wales and London can travel free on buses when they are 60, but the 132,000 people aged between 60 and 64 in the West Midlands still have to pay for bus travel.
Austin is calling on West Midlands Mayor Andy Street to tackle what he says is “another example of the raw deal people in the West Midlands get compared to the rest of the country”. He says public spending per person in the West Midlands lags behind many other parts of the country and says the Mayor should be fighting for a fairer share for people in the region.
He thinks free travel for those aged from 60-65 would help people volunteering for charities, caring for older family members or helping look after their grandchildren, especially during the holidays.
Free passes would also encourage operators to provide more and better services which would encourage more people to use public transport, cut congestion and reduce pollution.
Ian Austin said:
“Over-60s in the West Midlands have to wait much longer for free travel compared to those in London, Scotland or Wales. Many of them have worked hard all their lives and paid taxes which are used to subsidise higher levels of public spending in other parts of the country.
“Bus passes would help the over-60s care for relatives, help look after the grandkids or get involved with local charities or community groups, as well as going out with friends. They would also help bus operators increase and improve services for us all.
“Andy Street promised to use the West Midlands’ new devolved powers over transport to ensure ‘buses and trains are as accessible as possible to older people, and protect the free bus pass’ but he’ll never argue with a Tory government when it comes to getting a fair deal for the West Midlands.
“I think we need a Mayor who will stand up for local people and make sure they get the same level of services people in other parts of the country take for granted.”