CHESTER City Council is urging the government to help pay for the successful concessionary travel scheme.
Letters have been written to Hazel Blears, Secretary of State for Communities Local Government and Rosie Winterton, Minister of State for Transport, by Cllr Stephen Mosely, deputy leader and executive member for customer services.
He says the success of the scheme had placed a heavy burden on city council finances and its extension to a national scheme from April 2008 would lead to increased take up and higher costs.
The introduction of the full fare concessionary travel scheme in April 2006 was a major success and is widely used.
In Chester alone over 5,000 new passes were issued and existing pass holders are using bus services more frequently than before.
In his letter, Cllr Mosely writes: ‘As a city and tourist destination Chester is a magnet for residents from surrounding authorities and has a higher proportion of concessionary travel journeys than the majority of Cheshire districts.
‘In this financial year alone it is anticipated that Chester City Council will need to find an additional £500,000 to cover concessionary travel costs over and above the amount awarded as part of the Revenue Support Grant.
‘The current arrangements expose authorities like Chester to significant financial risk and effectively increase the level of council tax residents are required to pay.
A new travel scheme is being launched in April for people aged 60 and over and for disabled people.
It will allow free off peak travel (from 9.30am to 11pm weekdays, all weekends and Bank Holidays) across England on all local bus services.
Fore more information ring 01244 402148.