60,000 Black Country people 'miss out' on free bus travel
Nearly 60,000 people aged over 60 in the Black Country are missing out of free bus travel compared to other parts of the country.
New research by Dudley North MP Ian Austin has revealed 59,239 people aged between 60 and 64 have to wait until they are 65 for their free bus pass.
But residents in Scotland, Wales and London can travel free on buses when they are 60.
Mr Austin is calling on West Midlands Mayor Andy Street to tackle what he says is a 'raw deal' for people in the West Midlands.
He said public spending per person in the West Midlands lags behind many other parts of the country and says the Mayor should be fighting for a fairer share for people in the region.
He said: “Over-60s in The Black Country have to wait much longer for free travel compared to those in London, Scotland or Wales.
"Many of them have worked hard all their lives and paid taxes which are used to subsidise higher levels of public spending in other parts of the country.
“Bus passes would help the over-60s care for relatives, help look after the grandkids or get involved with local charities or community groups, as well as going out with friends. They would also help bus operators increase and improve services for us all.
“Andy Street promised to use the West Midlands’ new devolved powers over transport to ensure ‘buses and trains are as accessible as possible to older people, and protect the free bus pass’ but he’ll never argue with a Tory government when it comes to getting a fair deal for the West Midlands.
“I think we need a Mayor who will stand up for local people and make sure they get the same level of services people in other parts of the country take for granted.”
The figures show there are 17,649 people aged between 60 and 64 in Dudley, 14,923 in Sandwell, 14,061 in Walsall, and 12,606 in Wolverhampton.
Mr Austin thinks free travel for those aged from 60-64 would help people volunteering for charities, caring for older family members or helping look after their grandchildren, especially during the holidays.
Free passes would also encourage operators to provide more and better services which would encourage more people to use public transport, cut congestion and reduce pollution, he said.
Mr Street was unavailable to comment.