Thousands sign petition to save unlimited free travel
Political Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Kent County Council is facing mounting pressure to rethink its plans to cap the number of journeys children can use their Freedom Pass for.
More than 7,000 people have signed separate petitions calling for a change of plan.
Many parents have complained the £350 cap will run out within one term and they will be forced to pay hundreds of pounds to make up the difference.
Transport chiefs have hinted they are prepared to examine new options but have stressed KCC will still need to save £7million from the budget – more than half the sum it costs to currently run the scheme.
Emily Arnold, a mum-of-two and a Shepway Conservative councillor, is behind a petition that has already secured more than 6,000 signatures.
She will be sending her 10-year-old son to a secondary school in either Folkestone or Canterbury next year while her daughter, Alia, 13, continues her studies at Folkestone School for Girls.
“These changes are going to cost a lot of people a lot of money. It will cost me a £1,000 more. I appreciate KCC needs to save money somewhere but they need to look at this again. There are better options,” she said.
One alternative would be to limit the use of the card to school journeys between Monday to Friday, she added.
KCC says the charge for the pass for 11 to 16-year-olds will be pegged at £100 but that there will be a £350 limit stored on the card. Once that has been spent, pupils will have to pay for fur-
‘These changes are going to cost a lot of people a lot of money’
ther journeys themselves by topping up a smart card. There will also be a cap for those who use the post-16 pass but the costs of buying it will be cut significantly from £520 to £100.
Cllr David Brazier (Con) said: “What is set in stone is the amount of money we have to save. That does not mean that either myself or officers or bus operators cannot think of other ways of achieving it.”
Limiting the use of the pass just for school journeys would go against the principle of offering a card that could be used for leisure as well as getting to and from school, he added.
A final decision will be made at February’s budget meeting.
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