FREE early morning bus travel in Redditch became available to elderly and disabled residents from today.

Elderly or disabled residents are now able to use their bus passes before 9.30am every day on any buses anywhere in the borough.

Redditch councillor Greg Chance, who is responsible for transport, said: “We promised to deliver a pre-9.30am scheme and we’ve delivered it. The behind the scenes work took time but we wanted to make sure it was set up right, to be efficient and effective. Now all that work has been done I’m delighted to launch the scheme.

“Look out for the new passes with the Redditch logo on the back, that are in the process of arriving.

“By having clear priorities we have been able to provide this help for local people in tough times, which are particularly tricky for people on fixed incomes like pensioners. And we will be monitoring it closely to ensure we are getting value for the community.”

Redditch Council’s pre-9.30am concessionary fare scheme officially began on Monday after all the bus operators agreed contractual details. First, Diamond, Johnsons, The Green Bus, Stagecoach, Dudley’s, and Worcestershire County Council "WOOSH" are all covered.

The Redditch scheme enhances national free bus travel for eligible pass holders between 9.30am and 11pm weekdays and all day weekends, to also make it available before 9.30am on weekdays.

Worcestershire County Council, as scheme administrator for the county scheme, is in the process of replacing existing old style passes, issued to Redditch residents by Redditch Council and Worcestershire County Council, with Redditch-specific passes for the borough’s 13,000-plus pass holders, 80 per cent of which were already due for renewal at this time.

Eligible pass holders are able to use pre-9.30am buses from now and are not required to wait for a renewed pass in the meantime. Existing passes are still valid for travel anywhere in England up to the date of expiry on the front of the pass.

Eligibility for free concessionary travel on local bus services in England is based on age or disability. The age of eligibility for women is pensionable age and for men, it is the pensionable age of a woman born on the same day.