The Women’s Concessionary Travel Scheme pass (WCTS) was launched in April 2018 by Transport for Greater Manchester, following the Mayor’s commitment to help women most affected by the change to the state pension age in 2011. These women suddenly found their retirement age increased, meaning they’d have to wait longer for pension-age benefits including their English National Concessionary Travel Pass.
The Mayor initially pledged to help those women who were most affected by the sudden change. From April 2018, approximately 14,000 women across Greater Manchester born between 6 October 1953 and 5 November 1954, who had seen the maximum increase of 18 months added to their retirement age became eligible for the pass.
However, Andy Burnham is now proposing to extend the Women’s Concessionary Travel Scheme pass scheme further – subject to approval by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). This would allow women in Greater Manchester, born between 6 November 1954 and 5 April 1955 - those who have seen an increase of 12 – 18 months to their state pension age - to apply for a pass.
This would mean a further 5750 additional women would be eligible for the pass.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “The changes to pensions caused a huge amount of stress, upset and worry to thousands of women across Greater Manchester. My original aim when I launched the Women’s Concessionary Travel Scheme pass was to bridge the travel gap for thousands of women – a small step to address the pension issue, but I hoped, a significant one.
“However, I knew more people were affected by the change, and I’ve continued to work with Transport for Greater Manchester to see if there was a way to help more of the women affected.
“I’m very pleased to announce that we are intending to extend the pass to over 5,000 more women. It means fairer, accessible, affordable travel for more people in Greater Manchester and I hope it’ll make a real difference to these women. I know more women are affected, but I think it is right to help those I can, even if it’s not all. I have received no Government funding to help do this, but if I did then we could extend the scheme even further.”
Subject to budget approval at the GMCA on 14 February, the extension of the scheme to more women will begin in April 2020.
The WCTS pass entitles the holder to free off-peak travel on all local buses within Greater Manchester between 9:30am and midnight, Monday to Friday, and all day at weekends and on public holidays. There is a fee of £10 for the pass. Pass holders can also choose to add tram and train travel to their pass for £10 per year, which will give unlimited off-peak travel on Metrolink trams, and local train services.
TfGM has a dedicated web page for the WCTS, where people can find details of the current scheme and how to apply from April onwards.