By Ian Dipple Monday 11 February 2013 Updated: 11/02 17:11
BUS users have been handed a double boost with the reintroduction of free early morning travel and the launch of a multi-operator ticket scheme.
Redditch Borough Council has announced from Monday (February 11) elderly and disabled people will be able to use their passes to travel for free before 9.30am on First, Diamond, Johnsons, The Green Bus, Stagecoach, Dudley's and county council WOOSH services.
Worcestershire County Council took over control of the concessionary bus pass scheme in April 2011 and at the time decided only to fund free travel for pass holders between 9.30am and 11pm as they receive some money from the Government to help towards the £5.6million plus cost.
Redditch Borough Council had previously paid for pre-9.30am travel but the Conservatives decided it was too expensive to continue with, a decision Labour overturned after winning power last May.
The council is currently in the process of replacing the passes of the 13,000 plus eligible residents, 80 per cent of which were already due for renewal, but residents do not have to wait for a new one to be able to travel for free early in the morning.
Coun Greg Chance, responsible for transport on the borough council, said: "We promised to deliver a pre-9.30am scheme and we've delivered it. The behind the scenes work took time but we wanted to make sure it was set up right, to be efficient and effective.
"By having clear priorities we have been able to provide this help for local people in tough times, which are particularly tricky for people on fixed incomes like pensioners. And we will be monitoring it closely to ensure we are getting value for the community."
In a further boost to bus users Worcestershire County Council has announced it will launch a new multi-operator ticket on April 2.
Under the name Connecta, residents will be able to buy one ticket which can be used for multiple journeys on any bus across the county, regardless of the operator, or a single ticket to use on any service in urban areas of the northern part of the borough.
Coun John Smith, responsible for transport on the county council, said: "When planning journeys by public transport across the county there is often a confusing array of tickets and options to consider, and the Connecta scheme is a really positive development in making bus journeys easier and more enjoyable."
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