Woman attacks council’s bus pass rule changes

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A PARTIALLY sighted woman has accused council bosses of ‘discrimination’ against the disabled over plans to limit free bus travel.

Rachel Hawkins, of Acacia Avenue, in Bury St Edmunds, received a letter from Suffolk County Council explaining that her free bus pass would only be valid after 9.30am on weekdays from April.

The 41-year-old, who receives a free pass because she is registered as blind, says the move will leave her out of pocket.

She said: “It’s bad that they are deciding you can’t go anywhere before that time unless you pay.

“I work part-time at Karooze in Bury at the moment but I have to attend Jobcentre meetings at 9.30am.

“It’s bad enough trying to get a job with your disability.

“They’re looking at getting me into a work trial and that’s unpaid, so to get to my trial it’s going to be about £10 a week.

“It’s discrimination against the disabled and it’s disgusting for the people aged between 60 to 65 who work.”

Her sister Kerry Dalton, who is also partially sighted, will also be affected by the new measures.

Mrs Dalton works at West Suffolk Hospital and catches a bus at about 8am.

She said: “It means I will have to pay to get the bus at this time. I was quite shocked when I got the letter. I personally thought it was a bit discriminatory.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council confirmed the changes were due to funding cuts by the Government and would affect passes for the disabled and elderly.

She said: “A passenger will be able to use their pass to travel between the hours of 9.30am and 11pm weekdays and all day weekends and Bank Holidays.

“Changes come into effect from April 1.

“If a particular village does not have a bus to any destination between 9.30am and 11.59am, but does have one before 9.30am then travel will be allowed on the pre-9.30am journey for persons using a concessionary bus pass.”