Free bus pass: When you could get free travel could alter due to state pension age changes

Sadiq Khan quizzed by pensioner on future of free bus passes

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A free bus pass can help older Britons with a number of day-to-day activities, including getting out and about for doctor’s appointments, the weekly shop and other tasks. It is often an entitlement many people look forward to as it creates an ease of travel in old age. It also cuts another cost which will be important to those with a limited income in retirement.

Whether an individual is regularly using this form of transportation or not, it always creates peace of mind to know the option is available, and without cost.

However, due to state pension age changes, some Britons may have to adjust their expectations about when they will receive their entitlement.

Across the country, the age at which a person can receive a free bus pass varies.

This is due to devolved governments having their own rules and control over transport, who can get support and when.

As a result, it will be important for older Britons to check their entitlement age.

This will avoid individuals being disappointed if their preconceptions do not match up with what their area says about free bus travel.

Thankfully, in most places in the UK the rules about a free bus pass are easy to understand.

In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, the age at which a person can receive a free bus pass is 60.

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Individuals can get their entitlement by visiting the websites of the areas in order to find out more – which are accessible through the central Government website.

This is also the case for individuals who are resident in London, who can unlock free travel on buses, tubes and other transport at 60.

This, though, is only the case for travel which occurs within the capital.

However, the rules slightly differ for those who are living in England.

The Government website states: “In England you can get a bus pass for free travel when you reach the female state pension age.”

This is the case for individuals regardless of their gender. 

This is a rule which appears to pre-date state pension age parity, so it may be confusing to some.

The female and male state pension age is now the same with age parity reached in November 2018.

While the state pension age was previously 65 for both men and women once this goal had been reached, it was later increased to 66.

Anyone born from October 6, 1954 to April 5, 1960 will now reach state pension age upon their 66th birthday.

While this is the age people can currently unlock free bus travel, it is not the end of changes, and further alterations are yet to come.

In the coming years, the state pension is set to increase to 67, and then again to 68.

This is as a result of rising life expectancy, and Britons spending more of their adult lives in retirement than ever before.

For some, however, increases to the state pension age have been dubbed as unfair.

Campaigners from groups such as Backto60 and WASPI have asserted women born in the 1950s have been treated unfairly with regards to communication on state pension age rises. 

And with the COVID-19 crisis now causing many to reflect on their retirement plans, there may be some resistance with regards to further planned changes from many people across the UK.

If the free bus pass continues to be tied to female state pension age, then rises could, of course, impact entitlement.

Those living in England will be required to wait for a longer period of time to receive their free bus pass. 

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