All change your Freedom Passes, please.

Merton’s older and disabled Freedom Pass holders are being urged to ensure they renew their pass by 31 March 2010 so they can continue to enjoy free travel across the capital.

The Freedom Pass, paid for by London’s boroughs and the government, is the most comprehensive concessionary fares scheme in the country. It allows Merton residents aged 60 and over plus eligible disabled residents to travel for free on the capital’s buses, trains, London Underground, trams, and the Docklands Light Railway as well as local buses across the country.

The passes are normally renewed every two years to help prevent fraud, with the current passes running out on 31 March 2010. However, the new style passes will be valid for five years.

For additional security, the new passes will include a photograph of the owner on the card itself rather than on a separate photocard as is currently the case.

The new cards will take up to 10 working days to be provided and will be sent by post rather than being available immediately over the counter, so Freedom Pass holders are being urged to ensure they apply for their new pass well before 31 March.

Application forms for renewing the Freedom Pass will be available from today, Monday 4 January 2010. Residents over 60 can either download the form or pick it up from the Post Office and eligible disabled residents will be contacted by the council.

Merton Council cabinet member for adult care services and health, Councillor Maurice Groves said:

‘The Freedom Pass is highly valued by our older, retired and disabled residents in helping them to live as independent a life as possible. It can enable them to take that trip to see the grandchildren, attend a day centre or go to a museum. We are proud to fund this free travel scheme for Merton residents and I would urge all pass holders across the borough to ensure they renew their passes well ahead of 31 March.’

London boroughs have paid for the Freedom Pass, run on their behalf by London Councils, for over 20 years and have invested more than £3 billion into the scheme during that time.

Chairman of London Councils Transport and Environment Committee, Councillor Mike Fisher, said: “The Freedom Pass is a wonderful example of boroughs working together to improve the lives of older and disabled members of our community.
“I would urge all Freedom Pass holders to ensure they renew their passes in January and February to ensure they continue to enjoy the benefits of the scheme.”

Further information about how to renew your Freedom Pass or apply for the first time is available from http://www.freedompass.org or through the Freedom Pass telephone support line 0845 275 7054 or 020 7934 9633 (Mondays-Fridays between 9am and 5pm).

http://www.merton.gov.uk/freedompasses

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Notes:

People who become eligible for a Freedom Pass for the first time from 1 January 2010 will be issued with the new-style pass when they first apply.

The new style Freedom Pass now looks similar to passes issued across the rest of the country under the National Concessionary Bus Travel scheme.

From January 2010, residents will be able to fill out and download the new style application form from this website http://www.freedompass.org which you can then take to any London Post Office branch, or pick up a printed version from the local Post Office. Applicants will need to return the form to the Post Office and take along documents to prove their identity and address as well as a passport sized photograph. The Freedom Pass will be sent to them through the post within 10 days. Eligible disabled people will be contacted by their local borough.

To avoid a big rush for applications, London Councils has allocated dates alphabetically by surname:
– A/B/C/D/E surnames: 4-16 January 2010
– F/G/H/I/J surnames: 18-23 January
– K/L/M/N/O surnames: 25-30 January
– P/Q/R/S/T/U/V/W/X/Y/Z surnames: 1-6 February
– If you miss your week, please apply 8-13 February