English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS)

Q. What is the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS)?

A. In London the ENCTS is called the Freedom Pass. As well as traveling within London all older and most disabled freedom pass holders are entitled to free travel on local bus services in England outside London between 9.30am and 11.00pm Monday to Friday and all day at weekends and on public holidays. Some Freedom passes for disabled people are issued at the discretion of the London borough and, under government legislation, are not valid outside London. Please note that as a Freedom Pass holder, you do not have to apply separately for a national pass.


Q. What is the definition of a 'local' bus?

A. The definition of a 'local bus' will be self-evident in most cases, but in a few instances could include some longer distance buses and coach services where part of their route is registered as a local bus service. If in doubt, Freedom Pass holders can check before travel with the service operator or local transport authority in that area.


Q. I have a second home in London, but my main home is outside Greater London. Can I apply for a Freedom Pass?

A. No. You are only eligible for a Freedom Pass if your sole or principal residence is in one of the London boroughs and you are eligible by virtue of age or disability. If you have a second home in London, you must apply to the authority where your sole or principal residence is located. If London Councils becomes aware that you are not entitled to a Freedom Pass because you no longer live in a London borough, it will deactivate the pass so that it cannot be used.


Q. Can all Freedom Pass holders use their pass anywhere in England?

A. Almost all. However, a few disabled person's passes are issued at the discretion of the local borough council and the Government has given local councils no powers to extend the eligibility of these passes to include the national bus concession.


Q. I have a discretionary disabled pass which looks different from the national pass. How does it differ in entitlement to the national pass?

A. You have the same entitlement as other Freedom Pass holders on Transport for London buses, Tube, trams, DLR, London Overground and National Rail within Greater London. However you cannot use your pass on some Non-TfL bus routes in London and on bus routes outside of London.

Q. Why can't I travel 24 hours a day with my pass outside London?

A. The ENCTS only obliges local transport authorities to offer off-peak travel on local buses between 9.30am to 11:00pm. Any travel outside these times is considered as a local benefit and is funded at the discretion of the local authority. Generally, most local authorities will only offer local benefits to their own residents.


Q. I have a disabled person's Freedom Pass and am a wheelchair user. In London all buses are fully accessible. Is this the case outside London?

A. No. You are advised to contact the local transport authority of the area in which you wish to travel in advance to find out about the accessibility of buses in that area.


Q. Will I be able to use my Freedom Pass on local buses in London which are not part of the Transport for London bus network?

A. In most cases, yes. You can check with the relevant bus company.


Q. Will I be able to use my Freedom Pass on National Express coaches?

A. In most cases no. However, there are a few places where National Express provides a local bus service and in these cases the Freedom Pass will be accepted within the eligible times. You should check with National Express before you travel - www.nationalexpress.com or 08717 818181


Q. I am visiting another place in England. Can I use my pass on trams or local trains?

A. No. There is no requirement for tram or train operators to accept concessionary travel passes from outside their own area even if they accept passes issued to residents in the local area.


Q. What happens if I want to travel on a bus outside London outside the times that my Freedom Pass is accepted (9.30am to 11.00pm)?

A. Generally, you cannot use your pass to travel free outside of these times and will have to buy a valid ticket for the journey. It is advisable to check with the relevant bus company before you travel or you can contact Traveline: www.traveline.org.uk or 0871 200 2233.


Q. How do I use my Freedom Pass on the bus outside London - do I place it on the card reader?

A. Yes, if the bus has a card reader. If not, you need to show your Freedom Pass to the bus driver.


Q. I am visiting Scotland/Wales/Ireland. Can I use my Freedom Pass there?

A. No. There are no reciprocal arrangements between England and other countries for the acceptance of each others' concessionary passes.


Q. What happens when a bus service starting in England reaches the border with Scotland or Wales?

A. The ENCTS guarantees free off-peak local bus travel for eligible residents within England, but not within Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. However, local transport authorities do have the discretion to make special arrangements (which are funded locally). This could, for example, include free travel on cross-border journeys. It is advisable to check with the relevant bus company.


Q. If I am allowed to travel beyond the border with England or Wales, would I be able to use my pass for a return journey starting in England or Wales?

A. It will be for the Local Transport Authority making the arrangements with neighbouring authorities in England and Wales to determine eligibility for free return journeys.  It is advisable to check with the relevant bus company.


Q. I have a relative/friend visiting London from elsewhere in England and they have a national concessionary pass. Can they use this in London?

A. ENCTS pass holders from outside London can use that pass on local bus services in Greater London between the hours of 9.30am and 11.00pm Monday to Friday, anytime at weekends and on public holidays.Transport for London's bus operators may accept the pass at other times as well. Please check with the operators you wish to travel with.

Passes from outside London are not valid on the tube, trams, DLR, London Overground and National Rail at any time.


Q. I have a friend/relative visiting London from elsewhere in England and they have a national concessionary pass. Can they use the pass electronically on London bus readers?

A. No. In London, the Freedom Pass is an Oyster smartcard and the buses have smart readers, but they are based on a different technology to the one elsewhere in England.

The Government is working towards a national standard which will ensure that, in future, the same smartcard will work throughout England as well as on different modes of transport, such as trains and trams. Work is planned to make the readers on London buses able to read the national passes, but this will take time. In the meantime, people from outside London should simply show their passes to the bus driver when boarding the bus.


Q. I have a relative/friend visiting from Scotland/Wales/Ireland. Can they use their national concessionary pass in London?

A. No. There are no reciprocal arrangements between England and other countries for the acceptance of each others' concessionary passes.


Q. If I experience poor service when using my pass outside London who do I complain to?

A. You should complain to the relevant bus company in the first instance. If you are not satisfied with the response you can complain to the relevant local transport authority.