AN action group has lambasted Essex County Council for “knocking elderly residents down” with its plans to scrap free travel for Colchester Park and Ride pensioners.

The council is more than half way into its consultation on plans which could mean a return trip to the town centre for those with older people’s bus passes would cost £1.50 per person.

All concessionary pass holders currently travel for free after 9am.

County Hall says the concessionary fares scheme at park and rides across Essex costs it around £447,000 a year in lost revenue.

In order to make savings it could stop free travel for pensioners, which it is not legally obliged to provide.

There were 251,598 passenger journeys from the park and ride last year, of which 131,000 were concessionary pass holder trips.

Shelia Hammond, secretary of Tendring Pensioners’ Action Group, said: “This is another way of knocking the elderly down.

“Social isolation and loneliness are really big problems for the elderly.

“I feel like the council is trying to hit the elderly all the time and the Government is not supporting the elderly.

“They should be entitled to a free park and ride service.

“Pensions are not benefits, they are deferred wages from hard working people.

“Most people have worked all of their life and should be able to get on a free bus.”

Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s councillor responsibile for concessionary fares, is urging people to fill out the online questionnaire.

He said:”I understand the park and ride services across Essex are important for many people including concessionary pass holders.

“We want to ensure those of you that use the park and ride are getting the best possible service and experience for the fare you pay.

“We also need to demonstrate value for money, which is why we are reviewing free travel for older people’s concessionary pass holders.”

The consultation started on May 8 and will run until July 31. Visit

Essex County Council spends £18 million a year reimbursing operators for accepting bus passes across services, including park and ride buses.

It considers its park and ride services offer a “special amenity”, as the fares include provision of parking, toilets and customer service. As a result they can be excluded from the statutory element of concessionary travel.