Bus pass-holders in Hampshire may no longer be eligible for free travel on the county’s buses, should new plans from the county council go ahead.
According to the Hampshire Chronicle, the council estimates that introducing a fee for bus pass holders would rake in an additional £4.7m per year, which could then be reinvested into the area’s bus network.
However, a change in national policy would be required to introduce the charge.
The idea came about following a consultation into public transport in the county, but has been criticised by locals.
Despite the controversy surrounding the idea, council leader Roy Perry told the Hampshire Chronicle: “It is clear many respondents would be prepared to pay a little to keep the bus services.
“We do need to make savings in our revenue budget, and all areas of expenditure have been reviewed, including support for public transport.
“A 50p charge would equate to 25% of the average cost of each journey, meaning that council tax payers would still pay 75% of the cost of each journey made using the older persons pass.
“Should this happen, it could generate an annual income of up to £4.7 million – enough to cover the cost of all current bus subsidies and community transport, therefore enabling us to maintain current transport provision.
“As a local authority, our priority is to ensure that our resources are directed to where they are most needed.
“In consulting on possible changes to the current arrangements for supporting public transport, we will be guided by Hampshire residents to find the fairest and most sensible ways of using the limited funds available to us.”