LETTER: Bus pass system needs simplifying

I RECENTLY had cause to go to the council offices in Clitheroe, because of a problem with my bus pass not being recognised by the bus reading system.

Monday, 6th June 2011, 2:42 pm

I was informed that bus passes were now handled by the library. I went to the library, where an assistant showed me to a desk with two computer screens and a telephone. The idea is that you use the touch screen to call up the service you require.

Eventually, 10 minutes later in my case, a face appears on the other screen, motioning for you to pick up the phone. Sorry, I forgot to mention the web-cam! I explained my problem to the young lady, who asked me if my pass was damaged in any way, but I explained to her it was in good condition.

She then said I would have to get someone to verify the pass was not damaged as she could not see it herself. She also informed me that if it was damaged, the cost for a replacement would be £10 and I would have to take the pass to Pendle Council offices in Nelson for someone to inspect it.

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Bear in mind I was sitting in Clitheroe Library, which would mean a 28-mile round trip.

Now, I don’t know about any other 76-year-old pensioners, but I have got better things to do with my time than trawl backwards and forwards between Clitheroe and Nelson, just so my bus pass can be inspected.

Not particularly wishing to make the trip to Nelson, I rang the number on the back of my bus pass and it turns out Lancashire Council, in their wisdom, have outsourced the handling of bus passes to an external company by the name of One Contact, who have an office in Burnley.

Armed with my pass, I went to their office in Parker Lane, where I was seen by an assistant who showed me what can only be described as a tiny hairline crack in the card, which was nowhere near the chip.

I had to resign myself to the fact there was no way I was going to win my case, so I asked the assistant if she could arrange for the issue of a new pass. She told me I would have to ring the number on the back of the card and they would do this for me.

I called the number and, after the usual 10-minute wait, I was connected to an assistant who took all my details. She then told me she would put me through to another office to arrange payment. Alas, the lines were all busy and the lady asked if I would ring back later. I explained I had already wasted 10 minutes, but to no avail. Suffice to say I did eventually get the matter sorted out and am told my new card is on its way.

Perhaps when bureaucratic jobsworths at the council and those at One Contact decide to set up a new system, they should remember they are, at the very least, dealing with people who are over 60 and for the most part, over 75.

I was lucky to be brought up with computers, so do not find sitting in front of two VDU’s intimidating, but there are many who would. The system as it stands is too complex and time consuming.

Perhaps those who thought up these changes should remember the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and the acronym “KISS” – Keep it simple, stupid!