Ring and ride services for elderly and disabled people in the West Midlands face being stripped of all their funding under sweeping cuts to public transport.
Centro, which subsidises public transport on behalf of councils, has now launched a consultation on its £14.6 million of proposed cuts.
They include stripping free tram and train travel from pensioners and increasing child fares on the buses.
Further details emerged during a meeting of councillors who approved launching the consultation, but stressed no decisions had been made.
Public transport users will be asked whether they would be prepared for free tram and train travel to be removed from pensioners altogether or whether they would support an annual charge for the passes of around £30 or discounted fares.
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They will also get to say whether they would accept the scrapping of children’s half bus fares altogether, increasing what they pay to two-thirds, or introducing a fixed contribution per journey of 30p, 40p or 50p.
Ring and ride services, provided by the charity West Midlands Special Needs Transport, currently cost taxpayers £10.5m per year.
Passengers pay 60p per journey following a previous round of cuts that ended years of it being a free service.
Centro is proposing to either remove 25 per cent of its grant, 50 per cent or even hand responsibility over to councils.
This would mean it would be up to individual local authorities to decide whether to use the service for its elderly and disabled people, creating a postcode lottery in terms of the level of service.
Pensioners’ rights to free off-peak bus travel are protected by law Consultation sessions are being held from 9am to 3pm on the following dates: Saturday, December 7, at Sloane Street Square, Dudley; Wednesday, December 18, at West Bromwich Bus Station; Saturday, January 11, in Queen Square, Wolverhampton; and Saturday, January 18, in Park Street, Walsall.
Details can also be found at www.centro.org.uk/budgetconsultation