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Cost of KCC school travel pass set to rise

By Paul Francis

The cost of Kent County Council’s popular school travel pass is expected to increase this year, we can reveal.

It has emerged the authority is expecting to put up the price of the Young Person’s Travel Card to account for the likelihood of bus companies increasing their fares.

Any price rise is likely to prove unpopular with parents, who have seen successive increases in recent years. The pass, which can be used by pupils aged 11 to 16 for weekday travel, currently costs £280.

The bus pass cost is set to rise
The bus pass cost is set to rise

The cost of a separate post-16 travel card is also set to rise by £50 to £450.

The possibility of a hike in the cost of the pass was included in the council’s draft budget papers, which were released last week.

However, it was not immediately obvious with the increase described as a “ travel pass re-alignment to offset bus operator inflationary pay increases.”

A figure of £508,000 was placed against the budget for the pass, which KCC says is its estimate of how much might be needed to pass on to school children.

In a statement the council said: “KCC has made an estimate for fare rises as part of our 2018/19 budget proposals as it is possible bus companies will look to increase their fares.

“However, following a series of meetings, we are in negotiations with the bus operators to negotiate a cost increase below the current rate of inflation.”

“Once this figure is agreed it will enable adjustment in the final budget.

“We remain committed to the scheme and believe it still to be excellent value for money over buying tickets directly from the bus companies" - council statement

"The Young Persons’ Travel Pass will increase in line with this proportionate to the necessary increase in the £8m subsidy paid by KCC to enable continuation of the high value scheme.”

It was council policy that any fare increases by the bus companies were passed on in full through the parent’s contribution, it added.

“The draft budget does not propose any change to the amount by which KCC subsidises the pass, which is £300 to £330 per pass.”

“We remain committed to the scheme and believe it still to be excellent value for money over buying tickets directly from the bus companies.”

KCC is expected to know if there will have to be any increase in April.

Meanwhile, it said the £50 increase in its post-16 travel pass would be consulted on.

In a statement, the council said: “Each year KCC must consult on its Post-16 Transport Policy Statement and this will take place in the coming weeks, and provide an opportunity for Kent residents to feedback to the consultation.”

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