Saltire Card bus pass: I've finally claimed mine and discovered it's made in England – Susan Dalgety
Six years after I became eligible, I finally gave in last month and applied for my over-60s bus pass.
I had refused to get one when I hit 60 because I believed – and still do – that there was something morally wrong about subsidising people who can easily afford public transport. I made myself unpopular arguing with friends on generous salaries or large final salary pensions (remember those?), who boasted about their free travel while ordering expensive wine in one of Edinburgh’s fine dining restaurants.
I understand the argument about universal benefits being more progressive than those that are means tested, but I am still uncomfortable about people with half-million pound houses and no mortgage getting a free ride. If I were Chancellor, I would make freebies such as free bus travel and the winter heating allowance a taxable benefit. That way, those folk who really don’t need £500 to help with their winter energy bills or a £250 a year bus subsidy would be giving something back to help those who are really struggling.
But as my state pension kicked in, my husband managed to persuade me that I should at least apply for my bus pass, or Saltire Card to give it its official title. Imagine my surprise when it arrived last week, and the return address was somewhere in deepest Hampshire.
As an avowed believer in the United Kingdom, I found it strangely reassuring that my flag-emblazoned bus pass had in fact been manufactured in England. Further proof, if it were required, that while we may be four nations, we are one country.
Full disclosure: I still haven’t used my bus pass. One of the many advantages of living in the city centre is the ability to walk almost everywhere I need to go.
And, if I am brutally honest, I think another reason I was so reluctant to get one was because I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that I was old enough for a “pensioner’s” bus pass. But I am, which is why there is now a shiny new blue and white card nestling in my purse next to my newly acquired library card. I draw the line at watching Countdown though.