Reading Borough Council has to date offered its residents a concessionary bus pass scheme which has allowed fans aged 65 & over to travel to Madejski Stadium matchdays for free on Reading Buses and Stagecoach services.
However the local Council announced last month that, from Saturday 1st April, there will be changes to the validity of concessionary travel in the Reading Borough area which will see the subsidy removed to matchday fares.
This means that for the remaining four home matches of the 2016-17 campaign, supporters aged 65+ would be required to pay a matchday fare of between £4 and £6 for a return ticket to and from Madejski Stadium on the special football services.
The Council’s subsidy cuts come as a result of ‘budget pressures caused by unprecedented cuts in government funding and increased demands on services’, but Reading Football Club felt it was important to keep football affordable for our fans.
The Club were unaware of the plans to remove the subsidy to these fares before it was announced by Reading Buses a few weeks ago and understand that such a change will impact considerably on a number of Royals supporters.
Therefore, officials from the club were quick to enter into discussions and we have been proactive in ensuring that, in conjunction with Reading Buses and Stagecoach, the club will cover the majority of the subsidy until the end of the season.
This move means that supporters aged 65 & over in possession of a concessionary travel pass will only have to pay £1 each way to get to and from the game, cutting the proposed full fare price by more than half for home matches against Leeds United, Blackburn Rovers, Rotherham United and Wigan Athletic.
Reading Football Club Stadium Manager, Ray Booth, said “The matchday experience is vitally important to us as a club and we remain totally committed to making a visit to Madejski Stadium as affordable as possible for fans of all ages – and we are delighted to be able to help our supporters aged 65 & over get to the stadium for as little as possible to see the last four home games of the campaign.
“However, we are also acutely aware that this is an interim solution. Reading Buses will monitor travel patterns between now and the end of our season to gauge what sort of impact the removal of this subsidy has on the numbers of pass-holders travelling to games by bus and we will look to enter into new discussions with the relevant bus companies on our fans’ behalf as part of the club’s continued commitment to affordable football.”
Subsidising these bus fares is just the latest in a series of initiatives that the club has run this season with the intention of keeping football as accessible as possible to all supporters.
It began with freezing or reducing in the vast majority of our Season Ticket prices for the 2016-17 Championship season and that was quickly followed by our Twenty’s Plenty commitment
to matchday ticket prices for both home and away supporters – a stance that was admirably adopted by Cardiff City
to the benefit of our travelling fans who celebrated a 1-0 win in the Welsh capital back in August.
As a club, we significantly subsidised adult ticket prices for all the away fans travelling to Old Trafford
for an FA Cup Third Round clash against Manchester United – a decision which saw 3,710 of the 5,374 away supporters save £10 on their ticket for the tie.
And, back at home, we have recently announced our latest ticket promotion
, offering all supporters who purchase a ticket for our massive home clash against promotion-chasing Leeds United on Saturday 1st April the opportunity to come back three days later to see our Blackburn (h) game for just a fiver!
There are no proposed changes to the issue and acceptance of Access Passes for disabled persons’ bus travel which will continue to be valid on buses at any time, including matchdays. And it is important to note that concessionary passes will still be valid and provide free daily travel to pass holders from 9.30am, between Monday to Friday, within in the Reading Borough…but to find out more about concessionary travel and the changes that have been put in place, please visit the Reading Borough Council website - www.reading.gov.uk/concessionarytravel.