MORE than 16,500 Chester residents have already applied to Chester City Council for the new free travel bus pass which comes into effect on April 1.

The new concessionary travel bus pass entitles anyone aged 60 and over, or who are eligible disabled, free off peak travel on local buses anywhere in England and free off peak Park and Ride in Chester.

Residents who applied before January 31 should receive their new “smart card” bus pass before March 31. People who applied after January 31 should receive their pass mid April.

Anyone who has applied for the new scheme, but does not receive their smart card by April 1 can continue to use their old style pass on local bus services only in Cheshire until September 30.

However, Chester residents who need to travel outside Cheshire can contact the city council Concessionary Travel Helpline on 01244 402148 to make alternative arrangements.

Eligible residents who have yet to apply can call the council for an application form on 01244 402148, download a form from or collect one from the main reception at the Forum Offices.

Applicants will need to provide evidence of residence, age or disability and supply a passport size and quality photograph.

The benefits are:

From Monday to Friday free off peak travel throughout England between 9.30 am and 11.00pm (or midnight if you are travelling within Cheshire, Halton and Warrington).

Chester Park and Ride free off peak travel.

Free all day Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays.

Journeys starting before 9.30am in Cheshire on Mondays to Fridays, approximately half the adult fare will be charged.

Members of the Cheshire Districts scheme can also travel on local buses to and from destinations in Wales provided the journey starts or finishes in Cheshire.

Executive member for customer services, Councillor Stephen Mosley, said: “We are delighted that so many residents are taking advantage of this scheme. We would urge anyone who is eligible to apply to the city council as soon as possible.

“The city council has also made a number of local improvements to the national scheme. We have introduced free off peak cross border travel to and from Wales. We have introduced free travel on Park and Ride buses and we have introduced half price travel on all buses before 9.30am.

“These will cost Chester taxpayers money, however, we hope that our improvements will benefit thousands of elderly and disabled people in Chester and encourage more visitors and shoppers in to the city.”

For more information about the Cheshire districts scheme contact the Cheshire Traveline on 0845 140 2666.