Good news and a (partial) victory for people power! South Yorks Transport Authority has been forced to reinstate free train tickets for disabled people and half-price tickets for pensioners. Campaigners in South Yorkshire are today celebrating a partial victory in a battle to reinstate free bus and rail travel for pensioners and disabled people which was axed by transport bosses.
The campaign followed a decision by South Yorkshire Transport Authority to scrap free train travel for disabled people and restrict pensioners’ free bus travel.
But pensioners and disabled people responded with a campaign of direct action. Disabled people, pensioners and supporters have been staging “freedom rides” on trains in South Yorkshire every Monday by boarding en masse and refusing to pay.
For seven weeks hundreds of pensioners, disabled people and supporters gathered to board trains in Barnsley, Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster.
The action escalated when rail security staff and police blocked the entrance to Barnsley station.
The protests were backed by train drivers’ union Aslef, rail union RMT, bakers’ union BFAWU and South Yorkshire Unite Community branch.
As a result the transport authority is to reinstate free travel on local trains for disabled people and their carers from June 8 but only agreed half-price train travel in South Yorkshire for pensioners.
Disabled campaigners have vowed to fight on in solidarity with pensioners if they decide to continue the campaign.
Pat Harrington, general secretary of the Solidarity Union, said: "The protests have proved that direct action and political pressure get results for people."