TfL fares: Elderly Londoners to lose free morning travel on ‘lifeline’ Freedom Pass

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Charity Age UK London has branded the move “deeply concerning” and warned: “This is the wrong decision at the worst possible time.”

Elderly Londoners are facing “devastating” restrictions to free peak time travel, after Sadiq Khan opted to make pre-9am TfL charges permanent for 60+ Oyster users.

It comes as the mayor of London has announced cash-strapped Londoners are set to see their council tax and TfL bills rise by the biggest amount in decades.

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Typical bills will go up by £38.55 a year, while TfL fares will rise by 5.9% on average.

Travel restrictions for older Londoners were made permanent from today (Wednesday, January 18), and apply to 60+ Oyster cards and older person’s Freedom Passes.

City Hall says the move was made due to government conditions and relates to the requirement Transport for London (TfL) raises more than £500m from new sources, as part of the emergency funding deal.

An Age UK London protest at City Hall. Photo: Age UK LondonAn Age UK London protest at City Hall. Photo: Age UK London
An Age UK London protest at City Hall. Photo: Age UK London | Age UK London

Charity Age UK London has branded the move “deeply concerning” and warned: “This is the wrong decision at the worst possible time.”

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According to Survation data, shared by the charity, two thirds of 60+ Londoners who travel pre-9am on weekdays are working, attending health appointments or providing care.

While 13% of these pre-9am users say they have had to stop work as a result of restrictions on travel concessions at peak weekday morning times, and 27% have had to cut other costs.

And 28% said the restrictions had stopped them from making important journeys.

Nick Rogers, transport spokesperson for the GLA Conservatives, said: "The morning peak travel ban for 60+ Oyster card and Freedom Pass holders is unnecessary while TfL continues to spend millions on nominee passes and paid Facility Time.

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“The impact this is having on older Londoners, who relied on this to get to hospital appointments and to go about their daily lives, is unacceptable.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Photo: GettyMayor of London Sadiq Khan. Photo: Getty
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Photo: Getty | Getty Images

He added: “Sadiq Khan’s priorities are wrong and not shared by Londoners."

Age UK London chief executive Abigail Wood said: “We are devastated that the voices of older Londoners have been ignored.

“Affordable transport is a lifeline not a luxury and this cut penalises them with no choice about when and how they travel.

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“Age UK London is deeply concerned this comes at the worst possible time as the cost-of-living crisis worsens and more and more older Londoners are plunged into poverty.

“One in four older Londoners live in poverty – the highest level in the country – and London has some of the highest living costs in the world.”

Lib Dem assembly member Caroline Pidgeon added: “Disappointed the mayor has made permanent restrictions before 9am for 60+ and older persons freedom pass.

“Not good when so many older Londoners need to get to hospital appointments, help with childcare and volunteer.”

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TfL was also considering plans to increase the eligibility threshold for 60+ travel by around six months every year.

But a mayoral spokesperson said: “Today the mayor has confirmed funding from City Hall will be used to prevent this change and protect the concession for Londoners over 60.

“These changes to the concessions will still mean that the offering in London remains more generous than that available to older people across England, as well as for under 18’s."

An Age UK London spokesperson added: “We are however very pleased that the 60+ Oyster Card has been saved and proud of the campaign.”

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Commenting on the increases and restrictions, Mayor Khan said: “The last thing I want to do is increase council tax at a time when many household budgets are stretched. But the government’s refusal to provide the funding our city needs means I’ve been left with no viable alternative but to help plug the gap.

“I froze TfL fares for five years from 2016 to make transport more affordable for millions.

“But my hands have been tied since the pandemic by the strict conditions set by the government in the recent emergency funding agreement for TfL, which means fares have to be increased in London by the same amount as national rail fares – 5.9 per cent.

“This is a challenging time, with the government not fully funding our public services, but I’m determined to step up to continue building a greener, safer and fairer London for everyone.”

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