PLANS to double the price of peak-time bus travel for disabled people have been approved.

Earlier this year, Blackburn with Darwen Council launched a consultation proposing to change its concessionary disabled travel card scheme.

Currently, people who have a Disabled NoWCard pay a flat fare of 50p to travel on weekday bus journeys before 9.30am.

But following the consultation, the fee will now rise to £1, bringing Blackburn with Darwen charges into line with the county council.

The 50p fare was introduced in April 2008.

Disabled NoWCard holders will continue to receive free travel between 9.30am and 11pm on weekdays and all day on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays as part of the national concessionary travel scheme.

Borough regeneration boss, Cllr Phil Riley, said: “The council has recently undertaken a consultation exercise with Blind and Disabled NoWCARD holders to increase the discretionary charge for travel before 9.30am Monday to Friday from 50 pence to £1.

“The majority of respondents either expressed no preference or supported the proposals.

“Approval is sought to amend the Joint Lancashire Concessionary Travel Scheme and introduce the revised pre 9.30am fare later in financial year 2018/19.

“The statutory entitlement to post 9.30am “free” off peak travel for all NoWCARD holders is unaffected.

“The increase in fare will allow the council to continue to offer a discretionary enhancement to blind and disabled NoWCARD holders.”

In an equality impact assessment looking at the effect of the increase, strategic transport manager Mike Cliffe said: “Four out of the seven (57 per cent) of the respondents to question eight (would you travel by bus less often) said that the proposal would mean that they would not travel by bus less often.

“Only two of the eleven (18 per cent) respondents disagreed with the proposals.”

The NoWCARD is a partnership between the authorities of Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Cumbria County Council, allowing free bus travel for pass holders from Mondays to Fridays between 9.30am and 11pm and all day on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.

There had been no increase of the 50p charge for more than 10 years.

There are currently 3,485 disabled NoWCARDs on issue in Blackburn with Darwen, and a further 15,328 elderly NoWCARDs.

The public consultation ran for six weeks between July 5 and August 17, during which time just 11 completed questionnaires were returned.