A campaign against cuts to disability travel passes has had an impact in Sheffield.
At Sheffield City Council’s budget meeting on 7 March 2014, councillors decided to forego a 1% pay rise and instead use the money to protect disabled children and young people from planned cuts to concessionary travel schemes.
The Sheffield Parent Carer Forum had written to councillors to argue that plans to restrict the use of disability and “With Carer” passes to travel after 9.30am on weekdays were not just unfair, but a false economy. We told them that the restrictions would make it harder for young people with disabilities to become independent travellers, and for parents to take their disabled children to school using public transport – resulting in increased demand for SEN Transport, at major expense to the council.
Details of the a new scheme to mitigate the impact on disabled children and young people have now been announced:
Who will qualify? The scheme will be open to ALL children and young people (0-19 and 19-25 with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities) who hold an ENCTS disability pass and who travel to school or college on mainstream bus services. They do NOT need a statement of SEN.
You should NOT apply if your child or young person:
• is already receiving SEN transport (minibus or taxi)
• is not travelling to school or college on the bus or the tram
• is not in full time education or training
• has a current Zero Fare or Travel Master pass allowing free travel to school or college.
How will the scheme work? SYPTE will issue a new “to school” pass, to be used alongside the ENCTS pass. This will entitle the pass holder to free bus travel before 9.30am on weekdays. (Without the new pass, ENCTS disability passes will only be valid after 9.30am on weekdays from 31 March.)
How can I access the scheme? If your child is eligible, you should receive a letter inviting you to make an application to the council by phone or online. (Click here to download the letter.) The council will validate your claim and forward the details to SYPTE. SYPTE will then issue the new pass.
What about the “With Carer” pass? Parents/carers will continue to be able to travel free on the “With Carer” pass before 9.30am when used in conjunction with the new “to school” pass. (Without the new pass, “With Carer” passes will only be valid after 9.30am from 31 March.)
So it’s all sorted then? That remains to be seen. The new pass will expire at the end of July 2014, and the Council will then confirm the position for subsequent academic years.
What about train travel? As far as we know, there will be no more free train travel for disabled pass holders on train services within South Yorkshire, and between South and West Yorkshire, at any time. We are not aware of any plans to exempt disabled children and young people from this.