A MAN was faced with a two-and-a-half mile walk home when a bus driver refused to accept his free pass four minutes past the 11pm deadline.
Stuart Brooks, 61, of Raddicombe Close, Brixham, had to walk for two hours following his twice-weekly darts night at The Bell, Brixham.
Stuart usually uses his free bus pass to get home and was waiting for the number 24 to Kingswear when he heard the St Mary's Church clock strike 11pm.
He said: "I showed my pass and started walking up the bus then the next minute, the driver said I have got to pay.
"I said I have always used this pass for the last bus.
"I had to get off the bus. I was too embarrassed to say at the time but I had no money left.
"I had my £12 which I use to buy four pints and I spent that."
The former bus driver and long-distance lorry driver has been claiming incapacity benefit for more than three years for spinal arthritis.
He said the walk had left him in great pain.
"My ankles and back are killing me. I am really having a job to walk."
A Stagecoach spokesman said that the bus passes are governed by times set down by Torbay Council.
She said: "Outside of these times our drivers must charge customers the appropriate fare which does place our drivers in a difficult position.
"Our drivers are empowered to use their discretion in the event of a vulnerable person being unable to pay their fare.
"It appears that this may not have happened on this occasion, although we have not had the opportunity to interview the driver.
"However, we would like to apologise to the gentleman concerned for the distress and inconvenience caused and if he would like contact us we can investigate the matter further to ensure that the appropriate action is taken."
The above is an item in the Herald Express about a concessionary bus pass holder being refused free travel after 11 pm. There are 6 comments on the this story, 3 of which are uncomplimentary to Stagecoach and Torbay Council. Of the others one suggest that the gentleman concerned, Mr S. Brooks of Brixham, should have caught an earlier bus and also should have had some change left over for emergences and an other, noting that Mr Brooks had terrible arthritis suggested he shouldn't be playing darts. A third person commented that this kind of thing happens all the time the Herald Express will print any old garbage. The last comment, by me, points out the 11 pm deadline isn’t set by either Stagecoach or Torbay Council but by central government. And I quote:-
(a) at any time on a Saturday or Sunday or on any day which is a bank holiday in England and Wales under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971; or
(b) in the period from 9.30 am to 11.00 pm on any other day,
Now I can understand the not before 9:30 am restriction, children have to get to school and workers, what left of them, have to get to work but why have the government stopped us oldies using our passes after 11 pm. Do they think we all turn into Vampires that late at night?
And what happens if the bus is due at 11.00 pm but is a few minutes late? That isn’t the fault of the pass holder, the bus should have been there before or at 11:00 but wasn’t. The problem is the wording in the Act states the pass may be uses in the period between 9.30 am and 11.00pm. So if the bus is late, tough luck.
This is an other example of how badly some parts of this legislation were thought out from the definition of ‘disabled’ down to how the money each council are to receive to run this scheme.
Write to your MP and complain.
PS Writing to your MP is easy, all you need to write on the envolope is his/her name followed by MP and on the next line write Houses of Parliment.
Gorden Brown MP
Houses of Parliment
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You do know her/his name don't you.