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Bus pass rethink for young people
2:00pm Monday 18th February 2013 in News
A MULTI-MILLION pound overhaul of bus passes for young people is being planned in Worcestershire – including the possibility of a new flat £1 rate to travel anywhere in the county for under-25s.
The county council’s taxpayersubsidised Severn Card pass scheme is being torn up amid concerns not enough people are taking advantage of it.
A more modern pass will be brought in aimed at easing congestion across Worcestershire and helping teenagers attend jobs or college courses easier.
A watchdog-style panel of councillors has raised the idea that the new improved bus pass could be extended to all under- 25s instead of just under-19s who benefit at present.
The Severn Card is used by 1,702 young people in Worcestershire, but an in-house report warns it is becoming “unsustainable”
due to pressure from commercial bus fares.
Some school pupils qualify for a free card while other young people are charged up to £547 a year for it, but the overall cost of the scheme to the county council is £860,000 a year.
The report admits Worcestershire County Council “could do much more” to increase its popularity, including expanding the age range and charging £1 per trip. It also calls upon the authority to promote the new pass, including making it a central theme on the website.
Four options being flouted as possible alternatives from August include: A flat rate of £1 per bus trip, estimated yearly cost £1.5 million Half-adult fares on all trips, estimated yearly cost £1.8 million Free passes, costing up to £10 million a year A one-off £25 charge then £1 per trip for all cardholders Although these costs were based on restricting the cards to 11-19 year olds, the council is now considering expanding the scheme to 25-year-olds.
None of the options have been ruled out at present, although the report does warn some fares are already cheaper than £1 per journey, meaning a limited number of students would end up paying more.
But it does say the rate would be “easy to market” – and that it could potentially be taken up by 10,210 11 to 19-year-olds in Worcestershire.
The free travel option is almost certain to be scrapped in the coming weeks due to the costs.