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Sunday, 18 October 2009
End of the Twirlies: pensioner bus passes threatened
With a slew of friends passing 60 and collecting their free bus passes, this was one thing I looked forward to in old age when my teeth are lost due to prohibitively expensive dental treatment and all my lovers are dust.
I might have known it wouldn't be around by the time I was old enough to qualify. Local councils are bleating that they can no longer afford full universal transport for our elderly even though bus profits have made fortunes for the Brian Souters of this world. I suppose all those stupid council investments in Iceland are at last taking their toll.
The London Government Association accuses the pensioners, costing on average only £100 per year, of "taking advantage" of the free travel scheme. But isn't this a marvel? That we have a generation of energetic old people able to get about and keep themselves healthy and stimulated? I wonder how much they are saving the NHS by staying active. Or would the government rather have them indoors and ga-ga in front of their tellies?
The government won't fund the scheme properly. Yet it had billions to spend on bailing out the banks and has left plenty of perks in place for MPs while one of the few remaining marks of a civilised society is threatened. How about subsidising the poor for a change? Add up how much the non-doms, business and bankers have cost the public purse during the UK's richest decade ever and it dwarfs the £1 billion expense of looking after a hard-working generation who helped make the wealth of this country. RBS, 70 per cent owned by us, is set to pay out £1.8 billion in bonuses this year alone.
We surely need an emergency supertax in our hour of need.
Elsewhere on the transport front, Boris Johnson pleads poverty and plans to save £125 million by raising bus fares, mostly used by the poor, by a whacking 20 per cent while losing the same amount by letting off gas guzzlers from a higher congestion charge and aiding his Kensington and Chelsea friends when the West London congestion zone is scrapped. How's that for a reverse Robin Hood? See? I told you not to vote for Boris.
On a positive note, here's one MP I'd vote for. John Mann on why "greedy MPs" should shut up and pay up.