Nexus is introducing new checks on buses in the North East to prevent the misuse of concessionary bus passes meant for older and disabled people.
Smart ticket machines on buses operating in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham and the Tees Valley have been programmed to indicate immediately whether a concessionary bus pass has been cancelled by the local transport authority which issued it.
Where a pass is not valid, the customer may in future be asked to pay the appropriate fare and the pass may be confiscated by the driver, following an initial amnesty period this autumn.
A joint publicity campaign led by the North East Combined Authority and Tees Valley Combined Authority has been launched to advice passengers of the change, introduced on behalf of local transport authorities which issue bus passes, and in partnership with bus companies.
Cllr Nick Forbes, lead member for transport on the North East Combined Authority, said: “Free travel on buses is a really important benefit for older and disabled people paid for by local councils.
“Smart ticketing now means we have the technology to make sure concessionary travel is enjoyed by those it is intended for, without potential misuse or fraud.
“We’re working together as local authorities with bus companies across the North East to make sure there is a smooth process to identify and remove those cards which should not be in circulation.”
The machines will be able to detect if a pass has been cancelled by the local transport authority which issued it, if for example:
• The pass has been reported lost or stolen and a replacement issued;
• The pass has been reported as being used fraudulently by someone other the rightful holder;
• The holder is no longer entitled to concessionary travel; or
• The pass has been replaced by a more recent pass.