Buses will be free for the over-70s in Reading at all times during the coronavirus outbreak.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) has announced it will to waive time limitations on free concessionary bus travel for elderly residents in Reading during the coronavirus outbreak.

It follows news that some supermarkets and shops are choosing to open early for the exclusive use of elderly or vulnerable residents, to ensure they have the food and other supplies they need.

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But the council advised that, if possible, elderly or vulnerable people should ask somebody they know and trust to pick up shopping for them.

The changes come into effect from tomorrow (Saturday, March 21).

Councillor Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:

“The council is doing everything in its power to support residents – and in particular vulnerable and elderly residents – at what is an extremely challenging time.

“This is a common sense decision which will mean elderly or vulnerable people in Reading have the option of travelling for free earlier, taking advantage of shops which are choosing to open early for them.

“Wherever it is possible elderly residents should ask somebody they trust to shop for them, but by waiving the time limit on concessionary fares we can offer a better option to those who cannot.”

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RBC already provides free travel for the disabled and vulnerable without time restrictions, as a discretionary extra, with Access Passes provided to these residents.

Plans to cut the times when Access Pass holders could travel for free were axed last February after an outcry from the community.

Elderly concessionary bus pass holders in Reading can currently only travel after 9.30am, in common with most local authority areas.

The change being implemented means from tomorrow they will be able to use their passes at any time, in order to take advantage of earlier opening times.

Government advice is that people should avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible.

This is “strongly advised” for over-70s and those who have an underlying health condition or are pregnant.