I read in the Evening News (March 30) that the budget to subsidise free travel for seniors and the infirm for this financial year has almost been spent, due to constant increases in fuel prices.
Lothian Buses is between a rock and a hard place in having to decide between increasing fares yet again, or cut back on service in order to meet the shortfall.
Either of these choices would not be fair on the hard-pressed citizens not eligible to free bus travel, on top of all the other financial pressures brought upon them in this recession and since the government’s hard-hitting budget.
This subsidy is essential to those who qualify for the service, especially given the demise of many of our doorstep convenience stores and the disadvantages of getting to a supermarket.
Perhaps as an interim measure, a review of how the concessions are used is required.
Maybe a moratorium on free travel should be put in place, suspending the concession that enables the traveller to go anywhere in Scotland free of charge.
Or perhaps a nominal economic levy might help. It’s a wonderful aid to give seniors and the infirm the opportunity to visit family who live greater distances away or having the benefit of getting out of the house for a wee trip to another city, town or village in nice weather.
But I’m sure protecting local use of the service is more important in the short term.
Frank Ferri, Newhaven Main Street, Edinburgh
Row is merely a storm in a teacup
WHAT a waste of public money by Labour in reporting Alex Salmond to the Standards watchdog for inviting two old friends for a cup of tea and biscuits at Bute House.
Where is the sense of perspective from the party that was engulfed in numerous examples of donor sleaze and cash for honours scandals during Tony Blair’s Premiership?
This tribalism and negativity shows that Labour have learnt nothing from their 2011 Scottish Parliamentary election defeat.
Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh
Let’s all hail the benefits of shale
SHALE gas in the UK offers the prospect of a huge economic boost.
Worldwide shale gas deposits are offering mankind its greatest energy revolution since nuclear power and at a fraction of the cost of renewables.
Shale gas now accounts for 30 per cent of American natural gas supplies and there is a 100-year supply.
Natural gas prices there are now half of what they were three years ago, lowering electricity prices, stabilising manufacturing costs and attracting new foreign investment.
Shale gas would boost the British economy, British jobs and make us less reliant on foreign imports.
Unlike wind turbines, shale developers would not need eye-watering subsidies. Thousands of jobs would be created.
Plentiful and cheap shale gas would render the wind turbine industry obsolete.
Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow
Project is about improving choice
FAR from raising concerns about the standards of care, this pilot project for self check-in desks at hospitals (News, March 28) has already received positive feedback from a number of patients.
Our aim is to improve patient choice through giving patients the option of speaking with a receptionist or entering their details privately where there is no risk of being overheard by others who may be waiting.
This will free up our reception staff to spend more time with those patients who require a greater level of assistance.
Martin Egan, director of eHealth, Lothian NHS board