School pass in­crease to hit par­ents in the pocket again

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Police Chief -

Par­ents are likely be hit in the pocket again as the cost of Kent County Coun­cil’s pop­u­lar school travel pass is set to rise once more.

The young per­son’s travel pass, for chil­dren aged 11-16, cur­rently costs £280 a year. But that will go up as a re­sult of bus com­pa­nies in­creas­ing their fares.

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 re­align­ment to off­set bus op­er­a­tor in­fla­tion­ary pay in­creases”.

In a state­ment, the coun­cil said: “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.”

KCC cur­rently sub­sidises each pass to the tune of be­tween £300 and £330 per pass.

The pass al­lows for one jour­ney to and from school dur­ing term time. How­ever, the Stage­coach bus com­pany re­stored some for­mer perks of the pass last Septem­ber when it al­lowed it be used on ser­vices year-round, in­clud­ing week­ends.

A KCC spokesman added: “The draft bud­get does not pro­pose any change to the amount by which KCC sub­sidises the 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, the cost of a sep­a­rate post-16 travel card is also set to rise by £50 to £450. That will also be con­sulted upon.

KCC are in ne­go­ti­a­tions with Stage­coach to keep an in­crease be­low the rate of in­fla­tion

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