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Thousands wait for bus passes

PUBLISHED: 15:53 03 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:47 03 July 2010

Alan Thompson

Around 14,000 people across Great Yarmouth were this week still waiting for their new smart card bus passes that give free travel nationwide.

Tuesday saw the first day of free bus travel across England for the over 60s and disabled after 9.

Around 14,000 people across Great Yarmouth were this week still waiting for their new smart card bus passes that give free travel nationwide.

Tuesday saw the first day of free bus travel across England for the over 60s and disabled after 9.30am but Hampshire based Euclid which is handling 1.5m cards of the 11m total this week blamed sub-contractors for the delayed production of the first cards.

The borough council has been working on the scheme since September and had sent the necessary information to the company in February for it to mail out new passes in time for this week's launch.

Among those still waiting is John Warnes from Caister who came in to Yarmouth shopping on Tuesday but said that any plans he had to travel further afield are having to be put on hold.

He said: “I am OK to travel to Lowestoft, Norwich and Cromer but to go and see my family in Essex is going to have to wait for the time being. But to be fair, the bus drivers here in Yarmouth have been very helpful and told us we can use our old passes until the new ones come through.”

Head of customer services at the borough council Clare Metcalf said: “Unfortunately Euclid has not been able to meet its deadlines with local authorities in Norfolk. The county council has been in negotiations with major local bus companies on our behalf who have agreed to honour old bus passes until the new ones, which are being mailed out to traveller's homes, are received. So local travel within the county should not be affected.”

She added that people wanting to travel outside Norfolk may need an extra pass which will be issued to them at the cashier's office in Trafalgar House, close to the town hall. They need to bring in their old pass and give staff details of their journey. New passes should be with everyone by early next week.

Euclid managing director Geoff Neal apologised for the delay. He said: “In essence, the start date was at least some six weeks later than we had planned. Euclid only received details to produce passes on February 2, when in fact it had planned to be in production before Christmas. Our team has consequently worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sadly our sub -contractors for the fulfillment exercise, that is matching passes to letters and inserting these in envelopes, was unable to perform in a similar manner. If there is any blame to be taken for our overrun, which will be five days, then this ultimately rests with myself, as managing director of Euclid. But my team has performed faultlessly and beyond every reasonable call of duty.”

He added that Euclid apologised to anyone who had been inconvenienced by the late delivery.

The new cards are smart-cards with a photograph and memory chip built into them unlike the old cards which were just photocards. The over 60s have been entitled to half price local bus travel since 200, which became free in 2006.

Anyone needing information can contact Great Yarmouth Borough Council's customer service team on 01493 856100. Leaflets explaining how the scheme works are available from the cashier's office or are on the council's website: www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk

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