From 31 March 2014, disability travel passes and “With carer” travel passes will no longer be valid before 9.30am on weekdays. Free train travel for disabled pass holders will also be scrapped.
The decision was taken after local councils announced cuts to South Yorkshire’s transport budget.
The changes will mean that parents who use public transport to take their disabled child to school or college will have to pay for their own as well as their child’s fare; and young disabled people will have to pay to get to school, college or work in the morning.*
We believe that these changes are unfair, as they will increase the financial burden on families who already struggle to cover the extra costs of raising a disabled child. Four out of ten disabled children in the UK live in poverty.
The new restrictions will also make it harder for young people with disabilities to become independent travellers, as they will need to learn to ask for fares and handle money. For some young people, this added complexity will make independent travel impossible.
All of this is likely to lead to an increase in applications to Sheffield City Council for SEN Transport (which is, after all, free and easy to use) – making the restrictions not just unfair, but a false economy.
We are campaigning against these changes. We have explained our concerns to councillors and transport bosses, and are working together with other local charities to challenge the decision.
Please support us by contacting your local councillors and explaining how the changes will affect you. You can find their contact details on this website. It helps if you can copy us into any emails (firstname.lastname@example.org).
*Please note: Some children and young people aged between 5 and 18 may be able to get a Zero-Fare Bus Pass.
To qualify, you must live outside the statutory walking distance of two miles (if your child is under eight years old) or three miles (if your child is over the age of eight – unless you are classed as a low-income family, in which case the minimum distances is two miles). For young people aged 16-18, there is an additional requirement that they or their parents must be in receipt of certain means-tested benefits (e.g. income support).
If you don’t meet these criteria but your child’s needs make it difficult for them to walk to school or college, there is unfortunately no straightforward application process – even if your child has a statement of SEN. You will need to apply for the Zero-Fare Bus Pass, be turned down, and then appeal against the decision, giving supporting information about your child’s additional needs. You cannot appeal if your child is over 16.