Plans to scrap free tram fares for over-60s condemned as ‘completely unacceptable’

 

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A pensioners’ charity group has warned transport officials that scrapping free tram fares for the over-60s could lead to the rise in loneliness and isolation for elders.

Future plans to scrap concessionary tram fares in Edinburgh, as part of the city council’s latest budget cuts, has been condemned as “completely unacceptable”.

Charity group ‘Age Concern’ has written to every councillor within the city warning that scrapping free tram travel for over-60s will put elders at risk. The proposal was one of the measures proposed by the SNP-Labour coalition in its aim to save £36 million.

Chief executive of Age Scotland, Brian Sloan, said that the transport scheme for concessions acts as a lifeline for older people within the community.

“We know that trams are especially valued by older people with limited mobility, as they are easily accessible,” Sloan said. “Putting the brakes on this scheme will undoubtedly discourage people from getting out and about, and could lead to more loneliness and isolation.”

In their letters to councillors the charity group said: “Instead of reducing access to trams for older people, Age Scotland believes that capital city should be leading by example to create a fairer, more accessible, fully integrated transport system for all its residents.”

Nick Cook, Conservative transport spokesman, stated that he feels winter time could be an apprehensive and secluded time of the year for many older people.

“To float axing concessions at the onset of winter shows how out of touch SNP and Labour are with the Capitals residents.

“However, the situation raises concerns for all bus and tram users, who may have to stump up for higher fares as a result. On top of already funding the tram extension, the future profitability of Lothian Buses becomes a huge concern.”

Liberal Democrats transport spokesman Kevin Lang said: “This proposal shows just how dysfunctional the administration’s policy on public transport has become.

“They talk a good game on encouraging people to switch away from cars but they propose new barriers which run completely contrary to that aim – and all because we face the prospect yet again of the SNP massively cutting the council’s budget.”

Gavin Corbett said that funding free tram transport is highly beneficial for over-60s and disabled people.

“There’s a climate emergency in which the council should be encouraging more use of public transport,” he said.

“It’s time the SNP-Labour administration stopped treating the budget like a game of leaks and focused on producing robust proposals which work in the interests of the city.”

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