Although the Transport Bill says the new national statutory minimum concessionary bus fare scheme for the elderly and disabled starts at 9.30 am, local authorities were free to operate the cheap fares earlier if they wished, transport minister Lord Macdonald told peers.
He said the 9.30 am start reflected representations from local government bodies, but it was open to councils to set an earlier time if it was appropriate locally.
Former Labour minister Lord Islwyn said while the concessionary fares scheme was welcome, it was a very restricted measure.
Lord Macdonald said the passenger transport executives had called for the later starting time because of the large numbers of school and college journeys. In larger cities, transport operators had to recover from the congestion of the morning peak during that time.