‘Chaos’ claim over bus pass delays

PUBLISHED: 15:00 11 May 2013

Cllr Malcolm Cowan with his bus pass and passport

Cllr Malcolm Cowan with his bus pass and passport

Archant

BUS pass “chaos” is engulfing the county according to opposition politicians, as a backlog of 1,500 applications was revealed.

But County Hall says it has received just 66 complaints.

The row began when two Lib Dem county councillors complained about the current system.

Cllr Malcolm Cowan, who is also a Welwyn Hatfield Borough councillor, slammed county chiefs after his passport took less time to arrive than his bus pass.

He said: “I recently sent off my renewals for my passport and my bus pass, both on the same day.

“I was absolutely stunned when my passport returned first.

“Are Herts County Council carrying out greater security checks on people who just want to get on a bus, than the government do for people flying, as I cannot think of why else it would quicker to renew a passport than a bus pass?

“This is sheer madness and shows that the system is failing.”

And Cllr Kareen Hastrick, said: “I have had to intervene where local residents have had to wait so long their old passes have run out.

“Fortunately bus companies have granted people a grace period, despite their passes having expired.

“I have raised this problem in County Hall repeatedly and asked why so many people are having to wait so long and not had a proper response.”

Marion Birch, chief executive of Age UK Hertfordshire, said bus passes played a vital role “tackling isolation” in the elderly.

She added: “Any delay in receiving passes could have a real impact on someone’s health and wellbeing.”

A county council spokeswoman said: “So far we have renewed 124,000 bus passes.

“To date we have received 66 complaints, which is 0.05 per cent of the 124,000 people who have applied.

“Provided there is no information missing from the application, they are processed within two days of receipt then sent for printing, which takes between seven to 10 days.

“A number of applications have been received beyond the extended deadline of March 31.

“We are working hard to clear the remaining 1,500 applications, although in many cases we are still waiting for applicants to provide further information which was missing from their original applications and/or a more suitable photograph for the card.”

She added: “Old bus passes can be used on Hertfordshire bus services until the end of the month.”


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