A 74-year-old is campaigning to protect the Freedom Pass – as she fears concessionary travel is in jeopardy for London's pensioners.

Backlash ensued when restrictions were put on the pass in June 2020, which usually provides free travel for residents of Greater London, who are aged 60 and over or who have a disability.

A combination of funding cuts and coronavirus pressures meant pass-holders were prevented from travelling for free in peak hours.

Judith Howard, from Wandsworth, started a petition against these measures before a £1.8bn TfL bailout was announced in November.

However, the 74-year-old is intent to keep the issue on the public’s radar before the London mayoral election on Thursday, 6 May.

The petition has gained almost 80,000 signatures, as cuts to the transport sector remain high on the political agenda.

From the well-connected area of Clapham Junction, Judith relies heavily on public transport to socialise with friends and do her shopping.

Without the Freedom Pass she fears that loneliness will increase in elderly citizens, an issue that has already been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“I live alone, and my only social contacts are only a train ride away. If I didn’t have a freedom pass it would be disastrous. It would be like a permanent lockdown, you would be stuck,” she said.

A former organ constructor, Judith said her income has dropped by around 40% since living on a pension.

She’s also concerned about the knock-on effects for elder people and the Capital’s economy.

“The voluntary sector would grind to a halt, as charity shops rely so much on retired people, and the Friends of City Churches would lose most of their Church Watchers who keep these wonderful buildings open for visitors and tourists to enjoy," she added.

Judith has written to the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, the Mayor, Sadiq Khan as well as the Queen, expressing the need to secure long-term funding for Freedom Pases. 

But she worries that parties are “playing political football” and that travel concessions are at “the whim” of the government.

Judith said: “This ‘hand-to-mouth’ situation is not satisfactory. We need to secure proper, permanent, funding for our Capital City’s transport system, and a promise to safeguard the Freedom Pass for all pensioners for the future.”