Post-16 bus travel for £10 a week - KCC listens to young people
20 March 2012
Kent County Council’s Cabinet has given the green light to a plan for students aged 16 to 19 to get bus travel for £10 per week.
Cabinet Members approved the Post-16 Travel Card scheme, which would be made available to sixth formers, students and apprentices through their school, college or work-based learning provider. It will be available to students in schools and colleges to help them travel to the courses of their choice. KCC is aware that help with travel costs is a key issue for young people in deciding to remain in education after the age of 16.
The cards are exclusive to KCC and have a typical value of £750. The council will subsidise each card to a value of £230, as part of its commitment to help young people stay in education or training.
They will be available as early as this September in schools and colleges at a cost of £520, or £10 a week, for each student. The colleges or schools may choose to subsidise the cost further for some students who are eligible for the government's new bursary funding.
The scheme is now subject to the outcome of a separate consultation on a change to the wider, statutory, Kent Transport Policy, which ends Thursday 31 May. Finance for the new scheme comes from that proposed change, and the proposed card scheme cannot pre-empt the results of that consultation.
The Post-16 Travel Card has the same benefits as KCC’s popular Freedom Pass (for 11 to 16 year-olds), valid for bus journeys across the county, at all times, including holidays and weekends.
KCC Cabinet Member for Education, Learning and Skills, Mike Whiting, said:
“The Card meets many of the aspirations of the young people who petitioned the County Council last year, and of the Kent Youth County Council, which has been fully engaged with development of the proposal.
“It will allow Card-holders to take part in after school clubs, evening clubs including youth provision, weekend and part-time work, and trips.”
Kent Youth County Council member Paul Ayres welcomes the proposal.
He said: “We are really, really pleased that something is happening. Having a card that could be used evenings and weekends, as well as daytimes, will make a real difference. It just shows we are being listened to and I think it will encourage more young people to get involved – knowing that their views count.”
Kim Blacker, from Northfleet Technology College, which recently trialled the scheme, said:
“The recent opportunity for some of our post 16 students to be part of the Post-16 Travel Card trial has made a huge difference to them. One said it was “life saving”, providing him with the ability to seek part time employment further afield from where he lives.
“Preliminary indications suggest that long term it will make improvements to attendance and timekeeping, especially for those living further away from school. It has been extremely beneficial for parents, many of who are presently struggling to pay for rising transport costs in this difficult economic market. In addition to the environmental impact, the bus card provides students with greater independence as they are not relying on parents for lifts.”
Anyone currently in receipt of discretionary post-16 home to school transport will continue to get it until they leave their current school, college or work-based learning provider. No existing recipient will be disadvantaged.
Mr Whiting says that some students could get the card for an even lower cost. He said:
“Schools and colleges can use the bursary money they now get direct from government, a replacement for Education Maintenance Allowances, to further subsidise the cost of the card. Guidance will be issued to schools and colleges on the level of bursary subsidy they will be expected to pay to low-earning families.
“This is aimed at creating a level playing field across the county, so that students might expect similar levels of support regardless of where they live and which school or college they attend. The schools and colleges I have spoken to have warmly welcomed this proposal.”
To make paying for the card easier and more affordable, schools and colleges can take instalments – something KCC cannot do. Schools and colleges may decide the train is the most appropriate form of transport for a student, and can offer assistance with the cost if they feel it appropriate to do so.
The proposal is expected to save KCC more than £1million over the next few years, yet help considerably more students and young people than currently benefit from transport assistance.