BUS travel concessions for over-60s and disabled people are set to be protected in Cambridgeshire in spite of a reduction in Government funding – though there will still be fewer buses to use them on.

Until now district councils have held the funding to run the concessionary bus pass scheme but this will change from April 1 to Cambridgeshire County Council. The Government has handed over almost £4million to run the scheme while last year it cost a total of around £5.7m.

In spite of that shortfall, the county council cabinet agreed today (Tuesday) to keep previous extra discretionary concessions which were in addition to the national scheme.

This means that, in addition to concessionary pass holders being able to travel free on buses, including Cambridge Park and Ride, from 9.30am, passes will be valid on some rural services before 9.30am if there are no suitable alternatives, and blind and partially-sighted folk will still be able to use their bus passes before 9.30am.

The county council is considering a 50 per cent discount for concessionary pass holders on all community transport dial-a-ride schemes across Cambridgeshire from April 1.

But, with £2.7m subsidies being progressively withdrawn from uneconomic services across the county, some rural pass holders will inevitably lose their services entirely.

County Councillor Mac McGuire, cabinet member for highways and access, said: “We have been working hard with operators to keep, and in some cases improve on, the extra discretionary concessions that are not included in the national scheme.

“This means people who live in the more rural communities or use community transport can use their passes either before 9.30am in some cases or to reduce the fare price on dial-a-rides.”