£10.00 per annum charge for unlimited off-peak tram and train travel in Greater Manchester

If you are a passenger of pensionable age in Greater Manchester, there’s every chance you will be using your concessionary pass to access the City Region’s buses, trains and trams. In the weekends, you may be able to take a train, tram or bus before 9.30 am and travel by bus anywhere in England. This month, train and tram concessions are covered by your existing pass.

From the 02 February, this will change. Your new pass will cover all bus services in England after 9.30 am on weekdays, plus all day weekends and Bank Holidays. These are funded by the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme on behalf of the Department for Transport. Local Authorities reserve the right to add further benefits like free tram travel for Blackpudlian pensioners.

Transport for Greater Manchester’s pass – albeit free at the point of delivery till the 31 January – include Metrolink trams and trains within the city region. From the 01 February, free at the point of delivery off-peak train and tram fares will be a chargeable extra. An extra £10.00 per year.

Your new card will last for five years, meaning a cost of £50.00 for five years of concessionary train and tram travel in Greater Manchester.

Why the extra £10.00 a year?

Much of the £10.00 is an administrative fee for processing the card. Concessionary fares for trains and trams are funded by the precept on your Council Tax bill instead of the DfT’s concessionary travel schemes.

But £10.00 a year seems a lot when I have paid for this through my Council Tax…

£10.00 per year is the equivalent of 80p a month. That’s nearly thirteen weekday editions of the Daily Mirror at current prices. Youngsters cannot catch a bus for that price in Greater Manchester at half fare. You cannot get from Stalybridge to Huddersfield for a tenner by train these days.

On the other hand, the lack of any admin fees – whether for missing passes or additional items to your pass – could make a dent into TfGM’s tendered services budget. Your Travelshop could be open for fewer hours than at present.

Yet my grandchild can travel for free by bus…

The Our Pass scheme, which offers free bus travel for 16 to 18 year-olds is free at the point of delivery like the Senior Citizens’ pass. Grandchildren have to pay a one-off £10.00 admin fee for a two-year pass.

Unlike the ENCTS passes, tram travel with an Our Pass is half the adult fare outside peak hours. There is no train travel element (which means full price or discounted travel with a Young Persons’ Railcard). If s/he travels outside Greater Manchester, s/he would have to pay full fare like everybody else. For a journey from Stalybridge to Glossop, s/he would have to pay from Woolley Bridge on the 236 bus to Derbyshire. Likewise north of Horwich on the 125 to Preston.

What if I have a Disabled Persons’ Concessionary Pass or a Concessionary Plus Pass?

Nothing will change. Your local concessionary train and tram travel forms part of your pass.

What if my pass is damaged, missing or stolen?

A £10.00 admin fee is required for the processing of a new pass. This has been in operation since the start of 2018 and applies to all Senior Citizens’ and Disabled Persons’ concessionary passes issued by TfGM.

I would like to add train and tram travel to my Senior Citizens’ pass. How do I go about this?

There are three ways to add concessionary train and tram to your Senior Citizens’ pass. You can:

  • Do it online: if you already have a GetMeThere card for peak hour travel, there are five steps to add your ENCTS pass to your GetMeThere.com account on the Add A Card page.
  • Call in to a TfGM Travelshop: from Wigan to Ashton-under-Lyne, this is the most effective way to upgrade your concessionary pass. Please note that TfGM Travelshop opening hours may vary.
  • Pop in to your local convenience store: if your nearest off licence, newsagent or sub-Post Office has a PayPoint sign, you can upgrade your pass there. Again, the opening hours of your nearest corner shop may vary. This option will be available from the 26 January 2020.

Is Greater Manchester the only part of the UK that charges an admin fee or extras for other modes?

Probably not. Here’s how Greater Manchester compares with other parts of Northern England.

  • South Yorkshire: no premium for Sheffield Supertram concessionary fares. Rail concessionary element only half fare outside peak hours.
  • Merseyside: no premium for trains and Mersey Ferries nor admin fees. Merseytravel PTE also offer a local 60+ pass which is superseded by the ENCTS pass on reaching pensionable age.
  • Cumbria and Lancashire: both counties fall under the NoWcard which also includes Blackpool and Blackburn With Darwen Unitary Authorities. No admin fee as NoWcard is a full ENCTS pass with no local additions. Unless you live in the…
  • Blackpool or Wyre Borough Council boundaries where the extra local concession includes tram travel (again with no admin fees).
  • Cheshire East: no admin fee and no extra local concessions. Call in at a Cheshire East Customer Service Centre or Public Library. Please note that applications can only be made in person with appropriate identification.
  • Cheshire West and Chester: applications can be made online, again with no admin fee. Local benefits also cover Halton and Warrington boroughs. Also any bus bound for North Wales – so long as your journey begins in the Cheshire West and Chester Unitary Authority (i.e.: Arriva’s Sapphire service from Chester to Wrexham). No rail concessions available.
  • Warrington Borough Council: same travel benefits as concessionary pass holders in Cheshire West and Chester. Admin fee for damaged passes is £10.00.
  • Halton Borough Council: same benefits as concessionary pass holders in Warrington and Cheshire West and Chester Unitary Authorities. Admin fee for damaged, missing or stolen passes is £10.00.
  • Derbyshire County Council: a £5.00 admin fee is charged for replacement cards if lost, damaged or stolen. The Derbyshire County Council Gold Card is a bus only concessionary pass which is also a library card and (in participating shops) a discount card.
  • West Yorkshire: if lost, missing or stolen, a £5.00 admin fee is made payable to the WYCA (West Yorkshire Combined Authority), either online or by post (details within the Terms and Conditions on the Metro West Yorkshire website). Concessionary fares apply on all off-peak trains in West Yorkshire on production of a Metro West Yorkshire headed ENCTS pass.

Just to clarify, what are the peak and off-peak hours for a TfGM issued Senior Citizens’ pass after 01 February 2020?

  • Before 9.30 am on weekdays: full fare on buses, trains and trams.
  • After 9.30 am on weekdays, plus weekends and Bank Holidays: free on all buses in Greater Manchester till midnight (and 11.00 pm outside GM).
  • As above with £10.00 per annum train and tram add-on: all off-peak buses, trains and trams within Greater Manchester.

Where else can I use my TfGM issued Senior Citizens’ pass?

As well as buses, trains and trams, you could also use it on Greater Manchester Accessible Transport Limited’s Ring & Ride service if you are over seventy years old and have mobility issues. It is a door-to-door service which could be a cheaper way of accessing local services, shops and places of interest than hiring a taxi.

The single fare is £1.60 outside the peaks and £3.00 for an accompanying adult. Before 9.30 am on weekdays, it is £3.10 for pass holders (and the same price for accompanying adults). Before you book your first journey, you need to register (free of charge) with Ring & Ride.

In some areas, particularly those which haven’t seen bus services for several years, you can board Local Link services. If you remember the old Dial A Ride services in Sale in the late 1970s, it is a modern version of that mode of transport. First, you register with Local Link before you book your first journey. Then you give the Local Link control centre over an hour’s notice of your journey (either online or by calling 0161 244 1000).

Like your favourite supermarket chain’s online delivery service, you are given a set time for your journey. You may be sharing your Local Link journey with other passengers who want to go to Ashton Market and, unlike bus routes, the route may vary. With a Senior Citizens’ pass, your journey is £1.30 after 9.30 am (or the full fare of £2.65 before that time).

Finally, what is my TfGM issued Senior Citizens’ pass not valid on?

  • Football Special buses: they are classed as ‘excursions’.
  • Works Services: they fall under contracted services outside scheduled bus routes.
  • National Express coaches: a separate discount card is available, solely for use on National Express coach services.
  • Greater Manchester Museum of Transport shuttle buses: on special event days they are free of charge though a donations bucket may be seen on some vehicles. If you wish to get the Senior Citizens’ concession at the museum itself, just flash your ENCTS pass for half price admission.
  • East Lancashire Railway: not part of (though should be to some extent) Greater Manchester’s rail network. If you live in the Bury or Rochdale boroughs, local discounts are available for adults and senior citizens.
  • The Hulme’s Ferry: from Barton to Flixton, this seasonal service across the Manchester Ship Canal is free of charge for all passengers. Sadly, it is not as well signposted as it should be, nor advertised in TfGM leaflets.

S.V., 05 January 2019.

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