MORE than 5,000 women will be set for free public transport in new plans to extend concessionary passes in Greater Manchester.

The initial scheme was to end bus, tram and train fares fro women worst affected by the change in state pension age. The women found their retirement age increased, meaning they would lose benefits like free travel.

The Women's Concessionary Travel Scheme began in April 2018 and around 14,000 women across the region born between October 6, 1953 and November 5, 1954, whose retirement age had increased by 18 months, became eligible for a pass.

Now, there are proposals to extend the passes to women born between 6 November, 1954 and 5 April, 1955 — those who have seen an increase of 12 to 18 months to their state pension age. A further 5750 will be eligible if the plans are approved in February by Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

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.”

The scheme is subject to budget approval at the GMCA on 14 February, the extension of the scheme to more women will begin in April 2020.

The passes cost £10 and allow free off-peak travel on all local buses, Metrolink trams, and train within Greater Manchester between 9:30am and midnight, Monday to Friday, and all day at weekends and on public holidays.

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.