Bridgend Council to Provide Bus Passes for College Students as Dedicated Service Withdrawn
Bridgend Council look set to withdraw support for a designated college bus service in the county borough this week.
The local authority say they will now pay for bus passes for college students to use on existing FirstCymru services in the area, after they were unable to contract a dedicated service in time for September 2023.
Officers say this was largely due to the current market insecurity linked to Welsh Government’s replacement Bus Emergency Scheme, that has already resulted in cuts to a number of services across Wales.
The FirstCymru Bus operator is the current contract holder for bus services for students who travel to and from Bridgend College, however, the contract ends on July 24 and won’t be renewed due to cuts in funding.
As a result the cost to Bridgend Council is now estimated to be up to as much £357,000 a year to pay for bus passes, for approximately 700 learners who are eligible for free home-to-college transport starting in September 2023.
The report read: “Officers would normally have progressed a procurement exercise to ensure a new contract was in place for the commencement of the 2023-2024 academic year in September 2023.
“However, this has not been possible due to the uncertainty in respect of the cessation of Welsh Government’s Bus Emergency Scheme (BES). This has meant significant uncertainty over the availability of bus services within Bridgend, that would be able to allow the local authority to offer the current level and geographical coverage of bus services across the county borough for eligible college learners for the start of the new 2023-2024 academic (college year).”
The bus pass will be provided electronically to students in September, via a mobile app, as an ‘e-ticket’, which was described as giving young people a “more modern, digital ‘offer’”.
After the recommendation was passed, officers also noted how Welsh Government would provide a discount, known as the ‘mytravelpass,’ which could offer a 30% discount for travellers aged 16-21, adding up to a total of around £100,000 in savings if all students in the borough applied.
Members at the monthly cabinet meeting on July 18 discussed how further savings would likely be made as the number of students dropped over the course of the academic year, as well as the importance of students applying for the ‘mytravelpass discount, to avoid missing the discount.
By BBC LDRS
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