The temporary re-introduction of free travel for pensioners on the buses and London Underground and Overground before 9am on Fridays has been welcomed by campaigners tackling poverty among older people.

But the move doesn’t go far enough for those finding it too expensive to get around, according to Age UK London. 

Bringing back the ‘Freedom Pass’ and 60-plus Oyster card during Friday morning rush-hour is being trialled for three months by the Mayor of London in what campaigners see is a run-up to the London elections.

Restrictions stopping free rush-hour travel Monday to Friday were brought in during pandemic to encourage social distance and to get more money into TfL's coffers during emergency funding negotiations with the government when City Hall was strapped for cash. 

But all that was three years ago, say campaigners. It’s time to revert and lift Freedom Pass restrictions for pensioners who have been hit by the rising cost-of-living crisis since then.

“The financial struggles are worse than ever,” Age UK London’s chief executive Abi Wood said.
“Reintroducing free early morning travel for three months just on Fridays is by no means far enough. 

“We will continue to ask for help for older people as we get closer to the Mayor and London Assembly elections, including bringing back free travel on all weekday early mornings.” 

One-in-three older people say London is becoming increasingly “unaffordable” to get around, a survey by the charity has found, with eight-out-of-10 also worried about rising food and energy costs which they say “means every penny counts”.

Reinstating Freedom Passes before 9am on Fridays is continuing until June “to encourage more travel”.

The mayor is also looking to see if there are any “unintended consequences on other days”. 
Sadiq Khan says: “This has been well received by the business community and the retail, hospitality and culture sectors. The saving on fares is helping business.”

Reintroducing Freedom Passes before 9am on Fridays is calculated to cost City Hall £24million. Another concession, freezing all ‘pay-as-you-go’ fares for a year, is estimated to cost £120m, all said to be possible with “prudent budgeting” by the mayor.