Passengers across Wales can now access paper copies of application forms to renew their bus passes.
Last week Transport for Wales (TfW) launched what it has described as “one of Wales’ largest public engagement programmes” aimed at renewing all green coloured bus passes across Wales.
The Concessionary Travel Passes, which are available to residents over the age of 60 or those who have a qualifying disability in Wales, allow free travel on all registered local bus services and those that start or finish their journey in Wales.
The scheme was introduced by the Welsh Government back in 2009, with a lifespan of 10 years encoded into each pass. This means that all current cards are due to expire on December 31st 2019 as they will no longer be recognised by electric readers on buses.
It is thought that there are in excess of 750,000 cards in circulation across Wales.
However the launch, which took place last Wednesday, saw the TfW website hit with technical issues. It has now been taken down to allow the company to “increase the capacity of the website significantly so that the online service can be resumed as soon as possible.”
Now TfW say that having listened to feedback from their partners in Age Cymru and the Older People’s Commissioner’s Office, they’re making sure people can get application forms easily.
As a result paper application forms are being distributed from the middle of this week to those that have already requested them, and there is already a PDF version available on TfW’s website, to allow people to print them at home.
Paper forms are also being distributed to all local councils so that people can pick them up in their local communities.
James Price, chief executive of Transport for Wales, said: “We’re working with Age Cymru and the Older Person’s Commissioner to make sure we offer the right level of support for those most in need.
“The feedback has been that paper copies of the application remain in high demand.
“Paper copies have always been an option for people to apply and available by contacting our help desk.
However, taking on the concerns that we’ve heard from older people this week, we’re making sure that copies are available from local councils, such as libraries and community hubs and people can download a copy from our website www.tfw.wales/travelcards”.
Age Cymru’s Victoria Lloyd said: “At this stage we would urge older people not to panic about renewing their passes.
“The deadline is not until 31 December so there is plenty of time to make the application.
“We are pleased that Transport for Wales will be making paper versions of the application forms available in each local authority in Wales as well as with a number of charities supporting older people.
“If anyone is worried about making an application, help and support is available from the Transport for Wales helpline or other support agencies.”
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, added: “Many older people throughout Wales have told me that they depend on their bus pass, which enables them to get out and about, stay socially included, remain engaged with their communities and access essential services such as shops and health services.
“As the application process for renewal will mainly be online, something that will cause some concern for older people who do not use the internet, I expect local authorities to offer help to older people by providing paper application forms where these are required, or the necessary support so that applications can be completed on an individual’s behalf if this is required.”
TfW adds that it is continuing to work with local authorities and across community organisations, such as Age Cymru to make sure there’s plenty of support available to those who are anxious about applying.
Passengers have until December 31st to renew their bus passes. Current passes are valid until that date.