Cost of popular child bus pass rises to £290
The price of a bus pass used by thousands of schoolchildren will rise to £290.
Kent County Council has been criticised for increasing the cost of their Young Person’s Travel by £10 from the term beginning in September.
The scheme is already subsidised by the tax payer and costs the county council around £8.5million a year.
This is the fourth successive annual price rise under the Conservative-ruled authority.
Cllr Mike Whiting, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “Nobody wants to see prices increase but unfortunately, as fares rise, we are in the unenviable position of having to put the cost of the pass up.”
The travel card for 11-to-16 year olds allows one year’s worth of bus travel on Mondays to Fridays between 6am and 7pm.
The £290 price is the same for schoolchildren regardless of the length of their journey. They can still choose to pay for individual fares.
Cllr Ian Chittenden, part of the opposition Liberal Democrat group, said low income families could struggle to meet rising costs.
“The problem is whenever they put the prices up, it is the people who can least afford it that suffer.”
The county council say 25,000 children use the scheme. Families judged to be receiving a low income will still be able to buy the pass for £100.
Cllr Chittenden continued: “There is this £100 option, but there are a lot of people are just above this line but equally affected.
“It is those with two or three children who will suffer. The council has to think of those on the receiving end and I think they want a rest from price increases.”
Companies Arriva and Stagecoach allow card holders to ride using the pass outside of these hours and at weekends.
Cllr Whiting, continued: “I believe this is still the most generous scheme outside of London.
“The county council does not have to provide the pass but we do so because we want to promote sustainable school travel on the public bus network.”
The pass is being used all over the country and the council say it works out to average around £1.50 per journey.
Applications to use a pass from September will be possible from June 4. It is also possible to buy a pass for half a year.
For more information visit www.kent.gov.uk/youngpersonstravelpass