Axe threat to free West Midlands travel for elderly in Centro cuts

Free train and tram travel for pensioners is facing the axe while children’s bus fares could soar, under transport spending cut proposals unveiled today.

Midland Metro Wolverhampton

West Midlands transport authority Centro said it has to slash £14 million from its £146m annual budget because cash-strapped councils that fund it have been forced to make cuts of their own.

It is now launching a consultation on the proposals, which also include cutting the budget of the door-to-door Ring and Ride service used by pensioners and disabled people.

Should free train and tram travel for pensioners be axed? Vote in our poll below and have your say in the comments:

Options being looked at to save money include – children paying two thirds of the adult fare on buses instead of half; removing free local rail and tram travel for eligible people or introducing an annual charge of around £30; reducing the grant to Ring and Ride; reducing the number of taxpayer funded bus services.

The move would not affect free bus travel for pensioners and the disabled between 9.30am and 11pm, which Centro is obliged by the government to fund.

However it has previously found the funding to extend this service in the West Midlands to trains and the Midland Metro trams.

The leaders of the seven West Midlands district councils that fund Centro – Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull – have asked Centro to consult on ways to cut 10 per cent from its budget.

It must find £14 million of savings over the next two years.

Councillors will meet next Monday to consider the options and vote on launching a consultation.

Centro chairman Councillor John McNicholas said: “These are difficult options and if implemented would have a significant impact on the travelling public.

“That’s why it’s so important for people to tell us through the forthcoming consultation where they think we should make the savings and what effect those reductions would have on the way they travel.”

Wolverhampton City Council leader Roger Lawrence added: “Right across the country local authorities are being forced to make extremely tough choices because of the spending cuts being imposed by Government.

“The West Midlands is no exception and all areas of expenditure including transport need to be looked at to see where potential savings can be made.

“The options are not easy but I’m afraid this is the financial reality that has been imposed upon local Government.”

Comments for: "Axe threat to free West Midlands travel for elderly in Centro cuts"

bobwolf101

Scrap CENTRO!!! There should be one Transport authority that covers West Midlands, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire.

PJW Holland

I am reminded of an old joke which goes:

"How can you lose 25 pounds of ugly flesh at a stroke?

"Cut off your head"

Thus it is with public administration. To make substantial savings CUT OFF THE HEAD i.e abolish Centro and restore the operation of public transport to local control. If specific services then need subsidies they can be considered on an individual basis. However the Metro would be better replaced with a High Speed Heavy Rail link between Wolverhampton and Brum. Yes it has its points... but it has an appalling safety record which I believe is the worst for any rail system anywhere in Europe.

It is the remoteness of the management that causes the problems. Local control works better and will deliver a more responsive and significantly more cost -effective service.

One other advantage of local control would be the removal of subsidies for people to travel to out of town shopping centres such as Merry Hell.

JDG

Never liked CENTRO. They couldn't organize a brew-up in a brewery.

On the subject of increased fares, children should be forced to pay more. I'm especially inspired to make such a remark as it's not uncommon to see young teenage schoolchildren occupying seats on buses and leaving old people to stand. Too few kids are willing to give up their seats and lack any moral or ethical standards. Make them pay full fare if they are going to be so ignorant.

I too

PJW take a rest and focus on the article

National Express control passes. It is the funding to them that will be cut so no passes.

Labour, of course, will balame the Tories for these vile proposals.

The old, the vulnerable, and the yound will all be hit in the pocket. And so will the Town centre.

What needs to happen as an alternative is:

Cut all allowances, expenses or bonus payments for councillors especially their free transport and parking anywhere!

make blue badge holders pay for parking, yes park close so you do not have to travel far but pay too. That will stop the bogus blue badge b***ers in high heels! Pay and display for ALL.

Get rid of the Jaguar civic car and its special number plate

Get rid of proposals to buy a new mayoral car

Get rid of deputy mayor and car

Get rid of ring and ride and use taxis, only some people can use R and R. Usually only 1 person per van which does not make economic sense! I am sure they could get a taxi instead and pay.

Lets us see if councillors will vote for any or most of these things that affect them.

Nah, did not think so!

Wasters of money!

middley

You are singing my song I too. I still don't think it's fair for people who pay to keep getting stung to subsidise the one's who don't, Prescriptions are the same, I'm getting off this bus before I get slayed.

Ivor

The government has got to get rid of Centro club. Coming so soon after it was stated Centro faces a £253 million gap in funding for its grand Metro expansion plans and its plans to spend £4 million more on park and ride.

It now looks that to keep these grand spending plans on line the fools want to charge to use Walsall toilets and remove ring and ride and concessionary free travel for the infirm.

Centro this is not a socialist utopia, you are here to serve the very people who use Public transport, cut down on you spending plans and sack your well paid manages

rovi

I have received several calls about this and our members are very angry. They also see this as a threat to our Bus Pass and the situation could well lead to a precedent being set for the whole country. The West Midlands Pensioners Convention is totally opposed to such cuts, which will impact on us all in our communities. Ivor Timson ( a different Ivor to the one above). Full press release soon.

hjharris1

Having disability, getting about west midfs has been made so much easier via centro card, providing me free. I wud never travel as far or as often as i have in last few yrs! I agrree witht the editors apinion,the removal for elderly/and/or/disabled people,wud certainly be counter-productive, and i know it wud end up costing far more than they think they will save..... People wont get to doctors/hospitals/clinics. They will rely more on family,where in past times been independant to some degree.

And as fo0r depriving the kids of a decent discount to use the bus, its a no-brainer!!!

cut the wage bills of the top council heads of dept first, reduce waste in the councils via surveys/thinktanks, and other mean spirited cost cutting . BUT LEAVE THE VUNERABLE PEOPLE TO LIVE LIFE! AND YOU ALL THINK THE BEDROOM TAX IS BAD NEWS??? WHATS NEXT???

shawrey67

when cuts come why do they always pick on on the poorest in society first, why not start at the top for a change and look at all the perks the top brass are on,theres a lot of savings there and as for centro what a waste of time and money.

bitsie

This all comes from the cuts by conservatives to our local councils , hope you all remember when voting day comes because its always the people at the bottom of the pile that get squashed first.