Young people aged 16-19 who are attending a Southampton college or school sixth form are being offered a boost from this term as the council relaunches its discounted bus travel card scheme to help them get to classes.
We have worked with the two main bus operators in the city, Bluestar and First Bus, to reduce travel costs for 16-19 year old students.
The discount bus travel card was initially trialled last year and was officially relaunched by Councillor Sarah Bogle at an event in Guildhall Square on Friday 7 September. The My Journey Southampton road show was in the Square promoting sustainable travel (and brought their pedal-powered smoothie maker and static racing bike) while the Bike Doctor was on hand offering free health checks for cycles. Representatives from each of the city’s three colleges as well as Bluestar and First Buses also made an appearance.
Following the withdrawal of Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), many students in the city told us they were struggling to afford the fares to get them to college or sixth form. The end of the EMA meant a drop in income for more than 2,200 young people in Southampton – around half of all 16-19 students in the city. The council stepped in to ease the burden by getting round the table with the two biggest bus operators in Southampton to work out a deal that would make bus travel cheaper.
The student bus travel cards cover academic terms, including half-term breaks, and will offer unlimited travel within the city between 6am and midnight. Discounts from the bus operators and government grants secured by the council mean students can use buses for as little as £6 per week during the 2012/13 academic year, around 30 per cent cheaper than standard three-monthly ticket prices. The most disadvantaged students will have travel cards fully funded by their school or college.
Councillor Sarah Bogle, Southampton City Council’s cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “I am delighted that we are able to offer these discounted travel cards for young people in post-16 education in Southampton.
“It’s crucial that we as a council do all we can to remove any barriers that could prevent young people staying in education - and young people have told us that the cost of getting to classes was one of these barriers.
“This scheme has been made possible thanks to the strong partnership between the colleges, schools and bus companies and demonstrates that with creative thinking and partnership it is possible to deliver more support for young people even against the backdrop of tight budgets.
“Our goal is that Southampton becomes a city with learning at its heart, achieving excellence in education for all our children and young people.”
Lindsey Noble, Principal and CEO of City College Southampton, added: “An area in which Southampton and the Solent excels is its ability to connect education with businesses for the greater good of the region. This is yet another example of the public and private sector working together to support young people, who will ultimately drive our economy and regional workforce forward in the future.”
Mark Keighley from Bluestar commented: "Bluestar is delighted to continue our participation in the 16-19 Student Travel Card Scheme. We believe it provides valuable support to enable students to attend college in the Southampton area during these difficult economic times."
If you know someone who could benefit from this, they should apply directly to student services at their school or college - see the links below. More details on the scheme are available at our discounted college travel card page.