Posted: Thu 12th Sep 2019

Transport for Wales website crashes in confusing concessionary travel card launch

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Sep 12th, 2019

Those in receipt of the current ‘green bus passes’ in Flintshire are being asked to renew their cards before they expire at the end of the year.

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.

Transport for Wales (TfW), which is overseeing the renewal process, is now urging residents to re-apply for their new-style card “in plenty of time before the end of the year to ensure they can continue to receive the benefits of concessionary travel”,

TfW say that “the new-style cards offer the same free travel rights and benefits as the current cards” and are designed so that they can work as part of an integrated travel network in the future.

Previously new applications or replacement of lost/damaged cards are handled through Council Contact Centres.

However replacements or new applications will now need to be made through the online portal on the TfW website.

Over the last week there has been concern and confusion over the ‘deadline’ with it unclear if Wednesday was to be the cut off point for new applications, rather than reality that it is the start of the three month window.

The new system to apply for a new card went live at 10.30am on Wednesday, however, the TfW site suffered technical issues and displayed the below unhelpful message (something that has happened before) all morning.

TfW have blamed their website providers for the message shown on their own website.

One person explained to our sister site, Wrexham.com, how they finally got on the website and managed to start filling in the form, only to have the site issues surface and lose their date – twice.

Others have reported issues with the phone line method offered by TfW, with it ‘not accepting calls at this time’ due to ‘internal problems’, presumably the volume of calls, Wrexham.com states.

Despite the obvious high demand for factual information and use of the application system, actual details and communications have been thin on the ground.

Locally information has been scarce on the new cards and it took until late Wednesday morning before contact was possible with TfW, says Wrexham.com.

It is understood that local councillors had been provided with information ahead of the official launch time, and with similar information circulating around Wales it appears TfW’s systems could not cope with demand.

Previously TfW have said they were “working with all Welsh local councils and Welsh Government to roll out new-style Concessionary Travel Cards by the end of December 2019″ , 

However with the now traditional terrible communications no detail was available locally.

Flintshire council were asked what communications they have had to pass onwards and outwards to the public, and why the information had not been circulated.

Steve Jones, Chief Officer Streetscene and transportation said;

“Welsh Government are replacing all of the exiting Concessionary bus pass across Wales and have engaged TfW (Transport For Wales) to undertake this work on their behalf.

The current passes do not expire until December, 31 2019 and there is therefore plenty of time for existing holders to reapply for their passes.

Whilst applications should be submitted online, the Council has agreed to support the reissue by offering support through the Flintshire Connects Offices where Council officers can provide the TfW publicity information and if the pass holder has no access to the internet (or a close friend or relative who can apply on their behalf) they will assist with the re-application.

“TfW are responsible for the publicity and ensuring all permit holders are aware that they need to apply before the 31st December deadline.”

TfW have told us Wednesday is just the start of the process, and details will be provided at some point in the future. We will share that with readers as and when we have it.

Link to TfW’s new Concessionary Travel Passe portal: https://portal.tfw.wales/en/over-sixty

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