Free bus pass row erupts in Basildon

Echo: Michael Smith at his local bus stop in Noak Bridge Michael Smith at his local bus stop in Noak Bridge

A MAN looking to step onto the employment ladder has slammed a town’s bus service after having a nightmare trying to use his free pass.


Last month, First Buses, which runs services in Basildon, announced it was taking part in the Bus for Jobs initiative, which gives jobless people a free pass throughout January, but Michael Smith, 38, has said he has been refused entry on vehicles while other drivers have told him he is only entitled to a half price fare.


Bosses at the bus service say they are investigating as to whether their staff need an extra briefing on the scheme.


Mr Smith, of Pertoria Avenue, Noak Bridge, said: “It was First’s idea to take part in the scheme but most of the time I’ve been wondering what the point of the pass is.


“Drivers have told me they have never heard of it, and it means I’ve had to walk for two hours into the town centre to get to the jobcentre and other places.


“I’ve complained five times in Basildon and I’ve gone to the head office in Norwich too.


“It’s not right and their drivers should at least know about the scheme. I hope any other people haven’t had any problems.”


The Bus for Jobs initiative, which has been rolled out in other parts of the country, is for people over 18 who have been out of work for between three months and a year.


The scheme, which gives people free travel throughout January, was designed to make it more accessible for people to attend interviews and Jobcentre sessions.


But when Mr Smith has showed his discount card, Basildon drivers have said that they do not know anything about the initiative, refusing him entry and leaving him stranded.


First Buses said it is investigating and that all drivers were briefed on the scheme before it was rolled out at the beginning of the month.


A First Buses spokesman said: Whilst drivers and staff are aware of the scheme, we are looking into the complaint to establish if anyone requires refresher training.


“All drivers and staff were trained in advance of the launch of the 'Bus For Jobs' scheme, which began on January 1.


“Staff notices and information packs were distributed in December, and are still being displayed in all depot's so that staff are fully aware of the initiative.”

Comments (13)

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2:34pm Tue 15 Jan 13

UKGovnor says...

Hope he didn't used his 'free bus pass' to get to Norwich. When he was there hope he was also looking for employment.
Hope he didn't used his 'free bus pass' to get to Norwich. When he was there hope he was also looking for employment. UKGovnor

2:53pm Tue 15 Jan 13

emcee says...

What a silly comment. The bus pass can be used anywhere it is valid. And why should he have been looking for work in Norwich. Looking for work is a job in itself, and even jobseekers are allowed a day off here and there.
What a silly comment. The bus pass can be used anywhere it is valid. And why should he have been looking for work in Norwich. Looking for work is a job in itself, and even jobseekers are allowed a day off here and there. emcee

3:26pm Tue 15 Jan 13

notinwestcliffanymore says...

Two hour walk to get to the town center from noak bridge, maybe he should be looking at a mobility allowance. Or get the next bus, or pay half price which might be quid.
Two hour walk to get to the town center from noak bridge, maybe he should be looking at a mobility allowance. Or get the next bus, or pay half price which might be quid. notinwestcliffanymore

4:41pm Tue 15 Jan 13

John T Pharro says...

No mention of any actual interviews attended and it is long way to commute to Norwich for a job. It is given as a Bus for Jobs incentive after all not a free go anywhere recreational pass.
No mention of any actual interviews attended and it is long way to commute to Norwich for a job. It is given as a Bus for Jobs incentive after all not a free go anywhere recreational pass. John T Pharro

4:54pm Tue 15 Jan 13

I-say-you-say says...

I think he meant he complained to the First Bus Head Office which is based in Norwich and not actually physically went to Norwich (the article appears to be very poorty written).

However I do agree with notinwestcliffanymor
e - 2 hours seems a very long time. I would have said 45 minutes to an hour max!
I think he meant he complained to the First Bus Head Office which is based in Norwich and not actually physically went to Norwich (the article appears to be very poorty written). However I do agree with notinwestcliffanymor e - 2 hours seems a very long time. I would have said 45 minutes to an hour max! I-say-you-say

4:58pm Tue 15 Jan 13

John T Pharro says...

I-say-you-say wrote:
I think he meant he complained to the First Bus Head Office which is based in Norwich and not actually physically went to Norwich (the article appears to be very poorty written).

However I do agree with notinwestcliffanymor

e - 2 hours seems a very long time. I would have said 45 minutes to an hour max!
Right I see what you mean, but my last sentence still stands, unless that is another lot of bad reporting.
[quote][p][bold]I-say-you-say[/bold] wrote: I think he meant he complained to the First Bus Head Office which is based in Norwich and not actually physically went to Norwich (the article appears to be very poorty written). However I do agree with notinwestcliffanymor e - 2 hours seems a very long time. I would have said 45 minutes to an hour max![/p][/quote]Right I see what you mean, but my last sentence still stands, unless that is another lot of bad reporting. John T Pharro

6:19pm Tue 15 Jan 13

Essex Medja says...

Always on this site it is the victim who gets the stick. He has a valid pass and the drivers wouldn't accept it. It is ALL the fault of the bus company and the drivers, his walking speed is irrelevant.
Always on this site it is the victim who gets the stick. He has a valid pass and the drivers wouldn't accept it. It is ALL the fault of the bus company and the drivers, his walking speed is irrelevant. Essex Medja

7:20pm Tue 15 Jan 13

Audioman says...

With my FREE BUS PASS i can
travel on any bus in the UK.I can
go from Basildon to Scotland Wales
and it does not cost me a penny.
With my FREE BUS PASS i can travel on any bus in the UK.I can go from Basildon to Scotland Wales and it does not cost me a penny. Audioman

7:32pm Tue 15 Jan 13

GentleGiant says...

This sounds like incompetence from First and their drivers.
This sounds like incompetence from First and their drivers. GentleGiant

8:40pm Tue 15 Jan 13

Rich,Carol says...

notinwestcliffanymor
e
wrote:
Two hour walk to get to the town center from noak bridge, maybe he should be looking at a mobility allowance. Or get the next bus, or pay half price which might be quid.
If you walk less than 1 mile an hour, you could still get there in under 90 minutes as its 1.7 miles from Noak Bridge to the town and less if you walk accross the park it only 1 .4 miles.
[quote][p][bold]notinwestcliffanymor e[/bold] wrote: Two hour walk to get to the town center from noak bridge, maybe he should be looking at a mobility allowance. Or get the next bus, or pay half price which might be quid.[/p][/quote]If you walk less than 1 mile an hour, you could still get there in under 90 minutes as its 1.7 miles from Noak Bridge to the town and less if you walk accross the park it only 1 .4 miles. Rich,Carol

9:33pm Tue 15 Jan 13

Devils Advocate says...

Audioman wrote:
With my FREE BUS PASS i can
travel on any bus in the UK.I can
go from Basildon to Scotland Wales
and it does not cost me a penny.
How does that work? I have the perishers one which only allows bus travel in England. Have I missed out on something?
[quote][p][bold]Audioman[/bold] wrote: With my FREE BUS PASS i can travel on any bus in the UK.I can go from Basildon to Scotland Wales and it does not cost me a penny.[/p][/quote]How does that work? I have the perishers one which only allows bus travel in England. Have I missed out on something? Devils Advocate

4:25pm Wed 16 Jan 13

JessyJar says...

Stop whinging about your free transport when you don't have a job and the majority of us work hard and pay a fortune in travel expenses and taxes.
Stop whinging about your free transport when you don't have a job and the majority of us work hard and pay a fortune in travel expenses and taxes. JessyJar

8:34pm Fri 18 Jan 13

mags4mags says...

Mr Smith wants to consider himself fortunate - at least he mas managed to obtain that very exclusive item - namely a Jobcentre Travelcard. I have been perstering my local JObcentre since mid December - fobbed off with various excuses - eventually was told to come down & complete form - only to be told 3 days later "management" have decided not to implement the infrastructure necessary to produce such a coveted item. Guess that's why we're all "stay at home scroungers" in the North...(worse still - apparently there are plans afoot to extend the scheme if it's successful - something clearly not possible if we're not allowed access too it in the first place!).
Mr Smith wants to consider himself fortunate - at least he mas managed to obtain that very exclusive item - namely a Jobcentre Travelcard. I have been perstering my local JObcentre since mid December - fobbed off with various excuses - eventually was told to come down & complete form - only to be told 3 days later "management" have decided not to implement the infrastructure necessary to produce such a coveted item. Guess that's why we're all "stay at home scroungers" in the North...(worse still - apparently there are plans afoot to extend the scheme if it's successful - something clearly not possible if we're not allowed access too it in the first place!). mags4mags

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