The Freedom Pass is London’s concessionary travel scheme which allows free travel for older and disabled people across London’s entire public transport network and on local bus services across England during off-peak hours.
Anyone aged 66 or older is currently eligible; although eligibility tracks the women’s state pension age and so the age may change over time. Anyone aged between 60 and 66 can apply to TfL for a 60+ Oyster photocard which allows free travel on TfL-run services across Greater London, but is not valid outside of London.
The Freedom Pass currently takes the form of a contactless smartcard compatible with Oyster card readers and the scheme is funded by the London boroughs and the City of London and co-ordinated by London Councils.
In 2016/17, the Freedom Pass cost London boroughs £355million. However, much of this cost is raised from parking revenue – both charges and penalties. This means that motorists are effectively subsidising the provisions that allow older and disabled people to get about London.
£155million of parking surplus was used to fund the Freedom Pass in 2016/17 which amounts to 44% of the total required funding for the service.
This funding was provided by 20 different boroughs with the boroughs of Brent, Greenwich, Hackney, Harrow, Hounslow, Merton and Tower Hamlets allocating their entire 2016/17 parking surplus to the scheme. Theoretically, if all parking surplus was hypothecated to funding the Freedom Pass, it would do so entirely, and there would still be around £6.6million left over for other uses.
The benefit of the Freedom Pass is that it enables older and disabled people right across London to lead more active, happier and healthier lives, facilitating social inclusion and ensuring their continued participation in society. Parking management therefore plays a fundamentally-important role in enabling this service to exist.