A group of intrepid teenagers are celebrating after working with a bus partnership to secure discounted fares over the summer across Rotherham and beyond.
Young people aged 16 to 18 are eligible for concessionary fares on all buses in South Yorkshire, providing they have the correct 16-18 travel pass.
But initially this pass was only available to use during the academic year, meaning it ended on July 31 and recommenced on September 1. This meant some young people having to pay full fares in August each year.
Feedback given to both the Rotherham’s Youth Cabinet and the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) about this prompted both groups to review the situation.
A debate to look at the issues was led by the Youth Cabinet when they took over Rotherham Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Board (OSMB) earlier this year, and following this it was agreed that young people aged 16-18 should be able to use the passes all year round, including over the summer holidays.
Toni Paxford, aged 18, from the Youth Cabinet said: “This is great news as it means young people who are apprentices or in employment aren’t being penalised because the concessionary fares were only rolled out during term times.
“It also means students can also get out and about during the long summer break without this breaking the bank for them. We are grateful to the SYPTE for agreeing these changes following our presentation to them.”
The Youth Cabinet researched young people’s views around travel and presented their report to OSMB members earlier this year as part of the national Children’s Commissioner’s Takeover Challenge.
The OSMB was instrumental in getting members of the SYPTE and other key people to this debate. The changes were already being considered by the SYPTE prior to this debate. The changes were then implemented in May this year.
Chair Cllr Brian Steele said: “The young people were aware of an issue which was affecting future prosperity for some young people in Rotherham, by them not being able to access reduced fares all year round.
“It is great that they have had their views heard and helped to secure these changes and I am glad we were able to support them with this move. Not only will this help young people get to jobs, but I also hope access to these passes will also help prevent isolation for some young people, who can now afford to travel to see friends and family. It also means these youngsters are more likely to travel into town and beyond, which can only be a good thing for the local economy.”
Cllr Steele added that the Youth Cabinet gave a very professional performance in their takeover of the OSMB. “It makes you feel the future is in good hands!” he said.
As part of the enhanced scheme, which launched on 1 July, all 16-18 year olds living in South Yorkshire, including those in apprenticeships and employment, can now apply for a 16-18 Travel Pass to benefit from child concession fares.
This pass will allow young people in this age bracket to receive reduced travel rates, including 80p single fares on bus and tram, half price rail fare on Northern Rail services and value for money operator tickets, across South Yorkshire all year round.
The changes to the concessionary travel scheme for young people, made by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) in response to customer feedback from Rotherham Youth Cabinet and other customers, were approved by the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee on 8 May.
Tim Taylor, Director of Customer Services for SYPTE, added: “We take every opportunity we can to make improvements based on what people tell us would help them to use public transport. By working with Rotherham’s Youth Cabinet, we’ve been able to make sure our plans for concessionary travel are right for young people.
“The Youth Cabinet presented a very well put together debate on the barriers to travel for their age group and we are delighted to now be rolling out this enhancement to improve the travel options for all 16-18 year olds in South Yorkshire.
“The changes will allow us to better support young people to access learning, training, employment and other opportunities beyond existing academic boundaries.”
Customers applying for a 16-18 Travel Pass can do so online at travelsouthyorkshire.com, or via a paper application form from an Interchange.
The pass can be used as soon as it is received and is valid for two years, until 31 July of the young person’s second year in further education, apprenticeship or employment.
Press release issued by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council