Free bus passes for the elderly are here to stay

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While I am not in a position to make promises of freebies to my golden oldie contacts, I am totally convinced that despite the rumour mill suggesting otherwise, there will be no move to end the availability of our bus passes.

Withdrawal of the free bus pass would be political suicide for any Government contemplating saving money by making us pay to use buses.

The scheme is here to stay, especially as it makes good social and indeed economic sense for the country.

Getting older people out and about in the community means they have the opportunity to spend money, restricting them to their homes would not be clever. A situation well appreciated by the Scottish Government who will need every vote they can muster at the next Scottish elections.

Socially it also makes sense to have older people making contact with others, as witness my own experience on the local buses which is always good for a laugh each time I head for Ellon town centre, or even further afield.

Keeping older people exercising their minds as well as limbs makes for a good and healthy society, at ease with itself, while being at one.

Interestingly the harbingers of gloom, spreading the rumour that the scheme will end in 2016, seem to come from citizens 10 to 20 years short of being eligible for a pass of their own.

I have encountered such people who are full of malice and nastiness towards my age group. I actually feel sorry for them, particularly in the knowledge that I know this social service is set to be with us for a long, long time, certainly beyond my lifetime.

And finally, the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War had a special poignancy for me last Monday after I received an email attachment of pictures from a war grave in Italy. The pictures of a beautiful olive tree-lined pathway leading to my grandfather’s grave were new to me. Unitl my younger son Graeme visited Treviso in July, no one from the family had ever been to visit the grave of the Glasgow soldier who was killed on December 11, 1917.

The material proof of his sacrifice were something of a closure on his untimely death, even if I still feel guilty about not making the trip myself.

I have now made the promise to myself that I will travel to pay my own tribute to a man who gave his life in a conflict he probably did not understand, making him one of many in the “war to end all wars”.

As a teenager, I was haunted by the anti-war song “Where Have all the Flowers Gone”, especially by the sentiment “when will we ever learn”.

The current international troubles suggest we are very slow learners.