Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth has asked Welsh Government for certainty that everything will be done to ensure constituents who benefit from the Concessionary Travel Scheme will receive their new bus passes in time for them to come into force in January 2020.
Mr ap Iorwerth’s office has been active in assisting constituents apply for the new-style travel cards which are being introduced, and raised the matter in the National Assembly, as well as concerns regarding raising the age of eligibility for the passes which Welsh Government is proposing as an element of new transport legislation.
On the subject of raising the age of eligibility for the passes, Mr ap Iorwerth said:
“The concessionary pass, of course, is something that everyone appreciates and treasures. People look forward, I think, to reaching 60 years of age and receiving that pass, so, it’s not something to be taken lightly, of course, with regards to increasing the age of eligibility.
“There are questions that are important to ask with regard to the effect of this, and there could be a number of costs incurred because of raising the age of eligibility such as environmental costs if people choose not to use the bus and use their own cars, and social costs as well of people choosing not to go out from their homes.”
After Transport for Wales’ website was hit with issues soon after welcoming applications for the new passes, causing the site to crash, the problem now appears to have been resolved and the Ynys Môn AM’s office are welcoming constituents who need support to apply for the new card online.
210,000 applications have been made for the new card throughout Wales, with 750,000 card currently in circulation. Mr ap Iorwerth raised concerns regarding the application process with Welsh Government and also asked that they pull out all the stops to make sure everyone who applies for a new card receives it by December 31st 2019 when the new cards go live.
Mr ap Iorwerth said:
“On the issue of providing the new passes, the difficulties with the online system did cause a great deal of concern to many of my constituents. It’s important to look forward and not back, but what kind of stress test was made with the system, considering how many people were being asked to renew their passes?
“We heard one Minister—the finance Minister, I believe—saying a few weeks back, ‘Oh, they have plenty of time; they have until the end of December’. That’s not how people work. I’ve come across I don’t know how many people in my office who want to sort this out today, because they’re concerned that they’re going to lose their passes, and I’ve seen the pain in their eyes.
“That’s why I’ve been in my office with my staff providing a service to people, making the application on their behalf, and there are scores of people who’ve been coming into my office, and it’s been great to be able to assist them.
“I asked Welsh Government for certainty that everything is being done to engage with people as soon as possible to ensure that they can renew their passes, and also certainty that when the final day of December nears, the work increases to ensure that people have received the new passes.”
Mr ap Iorwerth’s is offering a free service to constituents who need help renewing their bus passes online. Any constituents who need help in completing their application are invited to visit his office in Llangefni with their current bus pass and national insurance number to complete the application.