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A guide to the over 60s bus pass: Applying and entitlement

Grandad and grandaughter on bus

Having a bus pass is incredibly beneficial, whether catching a bus occasionally or as part of your daily routine. Not only are buses reliable and inexpensive, but they are accessible to those who have mobility issues, such as stairlift users. From ramps and dedicated spaces for wheelchair users, they are great for those looking to regain their independence.

The over 60 bus pass can make catching the bus even more appealing, allowing people to travel for free. If you want a free bus pass, read on to discover all you need to know, including how to apply for and renew a bus pass for over 60s.

Who is entitled to a free bus pass?

Your entitlement to a free bus pass depends on which country and local authority you live in, but anyone can get one over a certain age, whether you are working or retired.

In England, you must have reached the state pension age. The bus pass entitles you to free unlimited travel between 9:30 am and 11 pm on weekdays, with full access to buses at the weekend.

You can get a free bus pass from age 60 in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Additionally, those living in London can get a bus pass to make travelling around the city easier.

Many councils also allow those with limited mobility who have not quite reached state pension age to apply for a bus pass. To do this, you must have a disability that is considered permanent and impacts your day-to-day life. The required characteristics for this can change depending on where you live in the country, but the seven disability categories, as stated on the Devon County Council website, provide a good indication as to whether or not you would be accepted:

  • Blind or partially sighted
  • Profoundly or severely deaf
  • Without speech
  • Severe difficulty in walking
  • Without arms or has a long-term loss of the use of both arms
  • Learning Disability
  • Unfit to hold a driving licence

READ ALSO: The best over 60s discounts in the UK

How do I get a free bus pass in the UK?

Applying for an over 60s bus pass is easy, and you can usually apply a month before you become eligible. To do so, visit your country’s government website to check your eligibility and use the online application form. The websites will provide you with all the information you need and let you know what forms of ID are needed to process your application.

You can find the websites you need to apply for a free bus pass below:

Is there a free over 60 bus pass in London?

Bus in London

There are two types of over 60s bus pass in London, both providing free bus travel, although one costs £20 to apply.

60+ London Oyster photocard

Londoners over 60 can travel for free on London transport with the 60+ London Oyster photocard. This is more than just a bus pass as it also works for the Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, Elizabeth Line (excluding between West Drayton and Reading) and most National Rail services. You can apply online and just need to pay an initial fee of £20.

Freedom pass

Much like any other over 60s bus pass, the Freedom Pass allows free travel for those of pension age and residing in one of the London Boroughs. This is funded through your local council and allows you to gain free access to buses, trains, and tubes across the city. The Freedom Pass has the added benefit under the Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007 that you can also use the pass on buses across the rest of the country. There is also a disabled person’s Freedom Pass available.

READ ALSO: A Guide to Accessible Public Transport

How do I renew my bus pass?

Your bus pass may renew automatically, or you may have to renew it yourself depending on where you live in the UK, as it varies from county to county. You can find more information on the website for your local authority, but if you need to renew, the local authority should get in touch with a reminder that your over 60s bus pass is about to expire.

What are the new rules for the over 60 bus pass?

Empty seats on a bus

If you have heard about new rules for the over 60s bus pass in the news, don’t worry, as nothing has changed for those who already have one, and the bus pass isn’t being taken away. The new rules are merely connected to a change in the state pension age planned for 2028.

From 2028, the state pension age will increase to 67, meaning anyone who wants to get a bus pass when they retire will have to be 67 in England once the change comes into effect. However, those in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland don’t need to worry as their bus pass isn’t tied to the state pension age.

Other types of bus pass

National Express Coachcard

The National Express offers its own Coachcard for those over 60. Although this doesn’t offer completely free transport to those looking to use its services, it does provide passengers with 1/3 off standard ticket prices, meaning that travelling the length of the country has never been more accessible.

The service offers a £15 return travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with destinations including airports and cities. If you’re unsure whether the National Express Coachcard is something you would use frequently, you can apply for a full refund if you don’t save the cost of the card within 12 months of purchase.

If you’re interested in buying a Coachcard, more information can be found on the National Express website. The card's price is £15 a year (+£3 postage and packaging) and can take up to a full week to be delivered.

What are the benefits of having a bus pass?

If you’re approaching the qualifying age for a bus pass, there are many different things that you can benefit from:

  • Accessible mode of transport for wheelchair users
  • Free unlimited travel
  • Improved mobility
  • Access to a wide variety of locations
  • A regained sense of independence
  • Connectivity with your local community and family

Having a bus pass, especially when you find travelling difficult due to limited mobility, can be a great benefit. Research from the Imperial College London suggested that those possessing a bus pass increased the number of outdoor activities that they partook in, including walking and cycling, due to having transport links. With more locations nationwide available for you to explore, these suggested results are hardly surprising.

Being outdoors comes with a number of benefits. Not only can the fresh air boost your mood, releasing any stress that you may be currently experiencing, but it can also greatly impact your physical health.

Although the first couple of times you venture out using your bus pass, you may feel fatigued, it has been suggested that the more frequent the trips you take, the more you can build your stamina, which is great if you want to feel more independent.

READ ALSO: UK attractions: Tips and recommendations for disabled visitors

The over 60s bus pass explained

If you are interested in a free bus pass for over 60s, we hope you have found the above information helpful. Having a bus pass can make an enormous difference and considering that everyone is entitled to one at some point, it's well worth applying for. Why pay for bus travel if you don’t have to?

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