The Freedom Pass, London, and me


By - Friday 13th November, 2015

Stephen Aselford on a much-loved tool for senior and disabled Croydonians


I have held the disabled persons’ version of the Freedom Pass since 1975. Back then, at weekends I travelled around London visiting friends, and learning how London has developed. I have come to appreciate how the pass can provide a good form of social inclusion – people are enabled to support museums, get involved in voluntary groups, and support family members and friends right across London.

When I first held the pass, it was valid on Buses only: all red buses, and (as they were then) ‘country green’ buses within Greater London. In our area, this included the 403 to Warlingham Park Hospital, the 405 and 414 to Hooley Woodfield Hill, the 409 and 411 to Caterham St Lawrence’s Hospital, the 408 and 470 to Epsom, and the 483 to Chelsham garage.

Over the years, the afternoon peak restriction was withdrawn as children going home from school were creating conflict because of overcrowding of pensioners. The Underground was included, along with British Rail local services in London. In our area the boundary stations were Sanderstead, Kenley, Coulsdon South, and Woodmansterne. In 2003, zone 6 was extended to include ten stations in Surrey: these included Upper Warlingham, Caterham, Tattenham Corner and Epsom Downs.

Monday to Friday you will see at East Croydon ticket office filling up with older people at about 9:15am, waiting for station staff to open the barriers

There was a consequence of these changes, one that may or may not have been unforeseen. When the pass was extended to the Underground all day, it created a kind of discrimination in favour of North London: most of South London is served instead by National Rail, which does not accept the Freedom Pass until 9:30am. Monday to Friday you will see at East Croydon ticket office filling up with older people at about 9:15am, waiting for station staff to open the barriers so they can get to the platform to get the 9:30am train.

When the government changed the pension age, TfL introduced the Over 60’s Oyster card for all older people over 60 resident in London who are not eligible for the full Freedom Pass. The availability in London is the same as the Freedom Pass. The 60+ Oyster is not valid on local buses outside London.

So the Freedom Pass is now valid on all London Buses, Underground, Trams, DLR, and London Overground at all times. It’s also valid on National Rail services within Greater London after 9:30am Monday to Friday, and at any time on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays.

With the English National Bus Pass, the pensioners and eligible disabled pass is also valid on most local buses across England. For further details on the Passes for Older People, Disabled persons, 60 pus oyster see www.freedompass.org.

The Freedom Pass has helped me and thousands of others explore London, help others, and live fuller lives. It would be even better if inequalities like the 9:30am rule could be addressed.

Stephen Aselford

Stephen Aselford

I am a Disabled person who has lived in Croydon for 40 years and have settled in Selhurst for 35 years. interested in transport, local History and local events

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  • Ed Chase

    Complete agree. People who live in North London get a better deal because they have better access to TfL services. I can see why the rail companies may not want to allow pass holders to travel on their trains for both financial and operational reasons. I think it’s borderline discrimination when it comes to disabled pass holders who should have similar access across London. (I appreciate it’s not the rail companies’ fault that TfL don’t have more services but you wonder if the councils should negotiate a better deal for their residents in boroughs which are not well served).