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Tuesday, 2 October 2023

Free bus travel in England for older and disabled people

Eligible older and disabled people are entitled to free off-peak travel on local buses anywhere in England. Find out whether you are eligible and where and how you can use your free bus pass.

Where you can use your bus pass

If you live outside England

Find out about free bus travel in other parts of the UK

If you're eligible for a free bus pass, you can use it anywhere in England during 'off-peak' times. Off-peak is:

  • between 9.30 am and 11.00 pm Monday to Friday
  • all day at weekends and on public holidays

Services outside England

The England bus pass only covers travel in England. It doesn't give you free bus travel in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. If you live outside England, you'll need to apply for a different pass from your local council.

Who is eligible for an older person's bus pass

If you live in England, you'll be entitled to a bus pass giving free off-peak travel on local buses when you reach 'eligible age'. If you were born after 5 April 1950, the age you become eligible is tied to changes in the State Pension age for women. This affects both men and women.

If you were born before 6 April 2023

You're eligible for an older person's bus pass from your 60th birthday, if you were born before 6 April 1950.

Women born after 5 April 2023

If you're a woman born after 5 April 1950, you'll become eligible for an older person's bus pass when you reach pensionable age.

Men born after 5 April 2023

If you're a man born after 5 April 1950, you'll become eligible when you reach the pensionable age of a woman born on the same day.

You can check when you'll become eligible by entering your sex and date of birth into the State Pension age calculator.

Who is eligible for a disabled person's bus pass

You're eligible for a disabled person's pass if you live in England and are 'eligible disabled'. This means you:

  • are blind or partially sighted
  • are profoundly or severely deaf
  • are without speech
  • have a disability, or have suffered an injury, which has a substantial and long-term effect on your ability to walk
  • don’t have arms or have long-term loss of the use of both arms
  • have a learning disability

You're also eligible disabled if your application for a driving licence would be refused under section 92 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (physical fitness). However, you won't be eligible if you were refused because of persistent misuse of drugs or alcohol.

How to get your bus pass

Contact your local council to find out who issues older and disabled bus passes in your area.

Bus passes in London - the Freedom pass

If you're eligible disabled or of eligible age and you live in Greater London, you can apply for a Freedom Pass. This gives you free travel on the entire Transport for London network. On most services, you can use the pass at any time. You can also use your Freedom Pass England-wide, but only during off-peak times outside of London.

Check the Freedom Pass website for more information about using the pass and how to apply.

Travelling to Scotland or Wales if you live near border

Your council may have special arrangements for you to travel between England and Scotland or Wales if you live near a border. Check with your local council for details when you apply for your pass.

How to use your bus pass

To use your bus pass on local buses within England, show your pass to the driver as you get on. If the bus is fitted with a reader, touch the reader with your pass. You don't need a ticket to travel, but on some services the driver may give you a zero-priced ticket to record their passenger numbers.

What other services are included

Your local council may offer other travel concessions, like free travel during the morning peak, community transport services, reduced rail fares or companion passes. These usually apply only in the local area.

Services that aren't covered

You can’t use your bus pass on services:

  • where most seats can be reserved, like coaches
  • that run for less than six weeks, like shuttle buses to special events
  • for tourists, like open-top bus tours, or services on vehicles of historical interest
  • that are running instead of a train - 'rail replacement' services
  • where the fare includes 'extras', like refreshments or car parking

However, many coach operators offer half-price travel for older or disabled people. Ask the coach company for more information.

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