PENSIONERS face losing free early morning bus travel as Wiltshire Council looks for more ways to slash up to £300,000 from its transport budget.
The unitary authority has launched a consultation on changes it is proposing to make to the concessionary far scheme. If agreed they will come into force next year.
It means bus pass holders may be stopped from having free travel on services before 9 or 9.30am.
Cabinet member for transport, John Thomson explained: “We will continue to fund free travel for the elderly and disabled, but we want people to tell us when they use the free transport and what options would work best for them so we can make savings while ensuring people can enjoy the free travel and go about their business.”
At the moment Wiltshire is the only local authority in the region that provides all-day concessionary passes to 86,000 people.The scheme costs the taxpayer of almost £4.6m a year.
In Gloucestershire free travel starts at 9.30am.
But the council says with reduced funding from central government and increased demand for its services the strain on its budget is likely to become heavier.
A council spokesman said: “Savings need to be made to help deliver the council’s priorities of protecting vulnerable people, boosting the local economy and bringing communities together.”
The proposals are expected to save the council between £133,000 and £300,000 a year. Figures show up to £218,000 could be shaved from the budget if the passes are only used after 9am, while between £242,000 and £296,000 could be cut if free travel is restricted to after 9.30am.
Over four years the savings could mount up to between £500,000 and £1 million. Much of the cost is made up of payments to bus firms who have to be reimbursed for carrying passengers using concessionary fares.
The consultation runs until September 28 and any changes are likely to be brought in from April 2015. Visit wiltshire.gov.uk to see it.