Tuesday, 6 April 2010

On the Buses

Perhaps it was turning 60 two months ago but Peter Hain is displaying a fierce pre-occupation with bus passes.

Three times on Radio Wales this morning, before the election had even been called, the Welsh Secretary warned of the threat posed to these freebies by a Conservative victory.

The Tories deny that they would scrap the bus passes. Welsh bus passes are funded by the Labour-led Welsh Assembly Government, which has given no indication it would scrap them if forced to deal with a reduced budget from Westminster under a Conservative government.

So voters may assume the bus passes will survive the election, whoever wins on May 6.

The passes themselves are often highlighted as an example of Wales leading the way - as the first nation to introduce them. Whisper it quietly but the idea - contained in Labour's 1999 Welsh Assembly election manifesto - came from London where over-60s have had free bus and Tube travel for years.

Peter Hain, yes him again, could not understand why his retired parents, then living in Putney, got free travel but pensioners in his own constituency did not.

The man himself now qualifies for his own free bus pass and indeed has used his newly-acquired senior railcard to travel between Neath and Westminster.

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