Cheshire East Council has introduced a new system to make it easier for older and more vulnerable residents to apply for concessionary travel passes.
The authority and its transport company, Transport Service Solutions (TSS), have created a new online application portal on the council’s website.
The process avoids the need to physically visit a customer service point, such as the local library, although that facility will resume from 6 July on a phased basis.
The online application route will help to avoid face-to-face contact and is expected to prove more convenient and user-friendly. The new system has been approved under data protection regulations and meets accessibility and security requirements.
Residents who do not have a computer or someone to assist them, can still apply to the council once libraries and customer service centres are open and operating in line with social distancing and with personal protection measures in place.
The new online application system will be operating from 1 July. At the same time the council is reverting to pre-lockdown concessionary bus travel arrangements.
From 1 July, free concessionary bus travel will only be available after 9.30am and the half-fare concessionary travel before 9.30 will return, as the country gradually eases out of pandemic restrictions.
Cheshire East Council and TSS, along with a number of local authorities, lifted the time restriction on free and concessionary bus travel during the lockdown period, enabling older and vulnerable residents to get to supermarkets and access other key services.
As the latest government guidelines could see an increase in passenger demand at peak times, the council is falling in line with neighbouring authorities to avoid any confusion where travel on cross-boundary services is concerned.
Cheshire East Council deputy leader, Councillor Craig Browne, said: “We anticipate that many older, disabled and vulnerable residents would prefer a more convenient and safe method of applying for their concessionary bus pass and, if necessary, they can be helped by a family member or friend to do this.
“At the same time, we must try to get the borough’s transport economy back on its feet and to revert to the pre-lockdown peak time travel arrangements is a natural step in that direction.”
Residents are reminded that face covering is required on public transport.
Further information relating to concessionary bus travel, temporary arrangements during the pandemic and the new online application process can be found on the Cheshire East Council website at: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/buspass
Where residents do not have internet access or an email address, they will be able to visit a customer service point to submit their concessionary bus pass application when these facilities have reopened. Currently, these will only be available at local libraries which will reopen on a phased basis. Details will be announced soon.
Residents can check their eligibility using the state pension age calculator and will need to have their photograph taken for the pass.
For the new online application, residents will need to be able to upload a photograph and their documents and this can be done with the help of a friend or relative. The process should take no more than ten minutes. They will need to provide proof of identity and residence.
Pictured - Cllr Craig Browne, Cheshire East Council deputy leader.