A call to allow people aged over 80 or registered blind to use free bus passes earlier in the morning has been rejected by Devon County Council.

Opposition leader Julian Brazil (Lib Dem, Kingsbridge) put forward the motion at a full council meeting on Thursday [8 December], asking the authority to introduce an enhanced bus pass like one available in Plymouth.

Free bus passes are available to older people (men and women who reach the female state pension age) or those with certain disabilities. They can be used from 9.30 a.m. on weekdays, and all day at weekends and on bank holidays.

In Plymouth, people aged 80 and over or registered blind can enhance their pass which allows them to travel free within the city before the traditional pass allows.

However, Cllr Brazil’s motion was rejected by a majority of members on the Conservative-run county council, which instead agreed an amendment that “keeps the time of free travel the same for all eligible residents as now” – from 9.30 a.m. Mondays to Fridays.

The Lib Dem group leader is “disappointed” with the decision. He said: “The figures that we’ve been given seem to imply that if an 80-year-old can’t travel before 9 o’clock or 9.30 in the morning, then they won’t travel at all. And I would argue with that.

“I would say that they would travel anyway and they’ll just travel after 9.30, so I think the costs of administering this scheme would be minimal.

“All it will allow is those 80-year-old-plus residents who want to travel before 9.30 the opportunity to do it. They do in Plymouth and I think we should do it here in Devon as well.”

No other councillor spoke on the motion or the cabinet’s decision.

A Devon County Council spokesperson said: “Full council voted in favour of the cabinet decision to keep the current time of free travel for all eligible residents” – 9:30 a.m. Mondays to Fridays.”