Older and disabled people will no longer be able to travel free on bus and Metro in North East England during the morning peak period, from Tuesday 26 May, as part of moves to support social distancing.
Local authorities, bus operators and Nexus have agreed to end the temporary relaxation of concessionary travel rules introduced in late March as part of steps to provide a covid-secure environment
People who do need to make essential journeys – for shopping, care or health reasons – are being advised to do so in the afternoon if they can, when buses and Metro are at their quietest.
The change means concessionary travel cards and Metro Gold Cards can no longer be used to make journeys before 9:30am on weekdays from Tuesday 26 May.
Local concessions still apply in Durham and Northumberland, passengers with all-day disabled cards are not affected, nor those with hospital appointments that require travel before 9:30am. Travel on weekends and bank holidays is not affected.
Huw Lewis, Customer Services Director at Nexus, said: “People with concessionary travel cards should, like everyone, only make essential journeys by public transport and travel in the afternoon if they can. There’s more space on buses and Metro after 12 noon, so that’s more secure for everyone
“We are acting as one in North East England to end the temporary relaxation allowing older and disabled people to travel free during the busier morning peak period on weekdays, because the local situation has moved on.
“The relaxation was brought in by Nexus and Durham and Northumberland county councils, who administer concessionary travel schemes, to allow older people more flexibility to visit supermarkets at the start of the lockdown period.
“With the pressure on supermarkets now gone and more commuters returning to public transport, the best way to maintain social distancing is to encourage people to travel at different times of day.”
The return to normal concessionary schemes applies to all bus services in Tyne and Wear, Northumberland and County Durham, plus journeys made with a Gold Card on Metro and the Shields Ferry.
Older and disabled customers can still travel before 9:30 by paying a fare or following local concessionary schemes.