Councillor voices concerns about removal of bus pass eligibility for Suffolk's Connecting Communities transport service
A council’s plan to remove bus pass eligibility on a public transport service could increase isolation, according to an opposition councillor.
Suffolk County Council has proposed to prohibit people from using bus passes on the Connecting Communities bus service to ensure the service is equal across the county.
Those in Mid Suffolk, Waveney and Ipswich already pay a full fare, and this charge will come into effect in Babergh from the start of April.
Beccy Hopfensperger, cabinet member for adult care, said the move was “disappointing but unavoidable”.
“There are other services which accept bus passes, so that’s an option,” she said. “It’s only a small amount who will be affected, but it’s something that is out of our control.
“It has to be about equality of services for the whole county.”
But Green Party councillor Robert Lindsay said this would constrain many of his constituents in rural villages, including Lavenham, Bildeston and Elmsett, travelling to and from Hadleigh and Stowmarket.
“I’m concerned, particularly for pensioners who depend on it because they don’t have transport of their own,” he said.
“It limits their options and there is a risk of increasing isolation for people who are already quite vulnerable. They say it’s to equalise the service, but they have equalised it in the wrong direction.”
A Suffolk County Council spokesman said the council remained dedicated to supporting community transport and rural services, and of 147,435 journeys taken via the service in 2017/18, some 16,652 were made using bus passes.