The outrageous letter from Adam Gould comparing bus pass holders to ‘benefit scroungers’ does at least raise the current question as to how we should subsidise uneconomic bus routes.
As Ramblers, we use public transport a great deal to get into the Derbyshire countryside (both before and after the 9.30 am bus pass watershed) and we already find it would be quicker to travel to London from Chesterfield than to get to many places in the Peak.
If we as walkers find public transport lacking how much more so do people who live and work in rural areas without the benefit of a car ?
The countryside is increasingly becoming the preserve of the well-off. Young people especially find it difficult to buy homes there or commute to a job.
The old who live there and cannot drive are in danger of becoming more isolated. For the millions of ‘tourists’ who surround the Peak Park it is becoming more and more difficult to access parts of it without private transport.
Whilst the financial climate demands some reduction in general public expenditure there is the danger that it is imposed by people, to quote a phrase, who ‘know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.’
Access to and from the countryside must be preserved, and if subsidy is the only way, what better way to provide that by continuing to allow pensioners the chance to get out and about using otherwise empty bus seats ? Our overall economy and our well-being demands it.
We trust central government will continue the free bus pass scheme and that our county council will not leave pensioners with a pass and no buses to use it on.
By David Moore,
Chairman, Chesterfield and NE Derbyshire Ramblers.