Pensioners go free in Blackpool

The debate of whether local senior citizens in possession of a NOW card should be entitled to free travel on the Blackpool tramway has often appeared on this website since the tramway’s modernisation, but it now looks like the topic has taken a surprising turn. Despite various threats of cost-cutting, Lancashire County Council have announced that NOW cards will be accepted on the Blackpool tramway.

Not only will Blackpool residents who have one of these passes be entitled to free travel on the trams, but this offer will now also be extended to all Wyre residents, meaning that the citizens of Cleveleys and Fleetwood will benefit as well. Naturally there will be some restrictions in place, and the offer will apply only to normal service trams (although concessions on heritage tours are already available and will presumably continue), but hopefully locals will be appeased by the reversal of the previous decision.

Is is quite surprising that this turnaround has happened, especially when only a matter of weeks ago the LCC were threatening to stop its financial contributions to the ongoing maintenance of the tramway infrastructure at the northern end of the line as it was short of cash! It is also interesting that passenger numbers had increased sharply most months last year compared with 2015, so the decision to grant NOW card holders free travel could well see even higher numbers once the new ruling takes effect in April. This could well result in more use of the ‘B Fleet’ Balloons and it is believed that more staff are to be trained to drive these trams before Easter, improving their operational flexibility.

Hopefully this is another sign that 2016 will be a good year for Blackpool’s trams, and more importantly that local councillors are finally realising the value of this unique asset!


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13 Responses to Pensioners go free in Blackpool

  1. Fylde man says:

    Does this mean that pensioners in the Fylde can use there Nowcards on the trams as well?

    • roger woodhead says:

      As the NoW card does not identify which District the owner resides in I cannot see any reason for Fylde residents not being able to use their passes. However it maybe that Blackpool may wish to have Wyre residents cards over stamped with the councils name. However it’s public knowledge that Lancashire were extremely annoyed when BTS said they would no longer accept the NoWcard so I am just guessing that the case has been ‘ want your subsidy, accept our bus passes’ just a guess.

    • Sam Flynn says:

      Not yet, but hopefully if and when we get trams to St Annes and Lytham, then they will be provided.

    • Michael says:

      There has been no mention locally of any extension of the travel concession to Fylde residents. The argument has been that the trams actually run in Wyre (they don’t run in Fylde although the Starr Gate terminus is virtually at the Fylde Borough boundary) and that Wyre residents are indirectly supporting the tramway through their council tax yet the free travel concession does not extend to them. It is also the case that Lancashire residents in other boroughs, e.g. Fylde, are supporting the tramway through their council tax but there has been no significant pressure to return to the situation of a few years ago when all Lancashire NOW card holders got the free travel concession on the trams. The local newspaper reports that it is Blackpool that is allowing the concession extension to Wyre in return for LCC agreeing to continue funding towards maintenance of the tramway in the Wyre area (currently £314,000 pa). Until this week the LCC had threatened to withdraw this funding which has led to speculation locally that if this happened the tramway would eventually be under threat north of the Blackpool boundary at Anchorsholme. In practice this would probably have meant the tramway terminating at Little Bispham. Even now it has been reported that the continuation of funding towards the tramway in the Wyre area safeguards the tramway in that area only for the ‘near future’.

  2. roger woodhead says:

    I will repeat what I said above. The LCC NoW card does NOT identify the district in which the holder resides. Residents of Burnley can now use the trams as well as Fylde.

    • trammy says:

      The card might not say it on the outside but the coding on the card which is read by the ticket machine identifies the district.

    • Kev says:

      NO they can’t as it will be checked! Does the machine not tell you when you scan the card? I know when the Heritage Guards check Now cards for the discount Day pass they ask where it was issued.

      • Peter Watts says:

        A slight correction as the NoW cards are not accepted on the Heritage trams, and therefore we (i.e. Heritage Guards, being one of them) do not have to check anything as we do not accept them! The only thing to check for the Heritage concession ticket is the age, and not the place of residence.

  3. The hybrid “solution” pulled the proverbial white rabbit from the hat only adds to increasingly complex situation. As result of the withdrawal of enhanced concessionary scheme tramway benefited from increased profitability whilst the Line 1 was able to sweep up those that were not prepared to pay. Now looks like from April find themselves in unfortunate situation where they have to run the 1 to safeguard the “foreign (out of boundary) concessionary money keeping it within council coffers with even less people on it. With a very busy tram service having to accommodate additional concessionary fares which is going is clearly going a challenge. Must be pretty frustrating from the operator perspective that had spent time and money wooing them and successfully converting them into fully paid up customers to have the goal posts moved yet again.

    Should the much touted Combined Authority underpinning Transport for Lancashire model be delivered as expected the whole model will be ripped up yet again with new framework put in place. With that potentially less than 12 months down the line people could be forgiven for looking at this as sticky plaster till then.

  4. peter bailey says:

    can I use my bus pass on Blackpool trams when I live in Grimsby

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