BOLTON MP Yasmin Qureshi is calling for a shake-up of the rules governing the issue of free bus passes for disabled passengers and, where necessary, companions to assist them.

She is concerned that government advice on the issue is unclear and that in some areas of the country, including Greater Manchester, local transport authorities will not provide the concession to helpers.

The law states that qualifying disabled people must be given free travel passes but the Department for Transport guidance only tells local authorities they may be granted one.

Bolton South-East Labour MP Ms Qureshi is also concerned that the provision of ‘companion passes’ given to those passengers too severely disabled to travel without assistance is patchy.

Some areas grant them to the disabled person to ensure they can have a help with them but others, including Transport for Greater Manchester refuse to issue them.

Ms Qureshi has taken up the issues with the Department of Transport and TfGM.

She said: “The area of disabled bus passes and companion passes is complicated and confused. I want to the government to clarify it so local transport authorities know they must issue qualifying disable people with free travel passes. I want a legal duty to issue companion passes to passengers whose disability is so serious they need assistance to travel."

Helen Smith, TfGM's customer development boss, said: “Unfortunately, due to the extremely limited budget available to us we are currently unable to provide free travel passes for carers or companions."

A DfTt spokesman said: "The Department issues guidance on concessionary bus passes, including for disabled passengers, to local authorities who then make a decision on who receives one.”