A CRISIS which has left some parents unable to fund their children’s school bus travel could be eased through plans to introducing a £2 flat fare all-day ticket.
Passenger transport authority Merseytravel reacted to growing concern about the cost of the travel by bringing bus firms to the table.
Last year St Helens councillors raised fears that spiralling fares and the increased cost of living meant that some children were missing school because parents could not always afford bus charges.
Young people also list the cost of transport as their number one concern, according to the Campaign for Better Transport 2013.
Merseytravel believes the flat fare – a ticket which could be used all day by children up to 16 – could reduce the cost of travel by more than 50 per cent.
Currently child single fares in St Helens range between £1.40 and £2.10, although a weekly ‘saver’ ticket for Merseyside is available for £10.
St Helens Council leader Barrie Grunewald was among the politicians who joined school representatives at the launch of ‘Fare Enough: A fair deal for young people’.
Leaders and transport operators from Arriva and Stagecoach signed a pledge to bring down the cost of travel.
The ticket could be available to buy on the bus for a trial period from April.
The move comes ahead of Merseytravel undertaking a full review of its pre-paid ticketing scheme.
Cllr Liam Robinson, the chairman of Merseytravel said: “We know that the cost of transport can be a barrier to young people getting to school, college, work or making the most of their leisure time.
“We’ve already frozen the cost of our term-time tickets, and the pilot projects with schools and colleges and ticket trial are the next steps in our commitment to work with our operators, local authorities and educational establishments to get young people a better, more affordable offer overall.”
Howard Farrall, area managing director, Arriva Merseyside, said bus travel “is essential for many younger people to access education, training and jobs”.
He said: “We recognise the importance of working with our partners to ensure that bus travel is accessible and affordable for this age group, and the announcement is a positive step forward for younger bus users.”
St Helens Council welcomed the move, and said it was working hard to provide alternatives to car use by encouraging more people to use public transport and developing “a cycling culture”.
Meanwhile, a Merseytravel-led pilot project aiming to support young people’s transport needs has taken place in schools.
Free Arriva travel tickets have been given to pupils at some schools where families were struggling to pay for transport.
Schools continue to pay for the pupils travel tickets from pupil premium if pupil attendance has improved.
Other support includes helping pupils with special educational needs to travel independently, free bikes for pupils who were struggling with travel costs.
Haydock High was the St Helens school selected to take part.
Leaders and transport operators sign a pledge to work together to bring down the cost of travel for young people.