A MULTI-MILLION pound overhaul of bus passes for young people is being planned in Worcestershire – including the possibility of a new flat £1 rate to travel anywhere in the county for under 25s.
The county council’s taxpayer-subsidised Severn Card pass scheme is being torn up amid concerns not enough people are taking advantage of it.
A more modern pass will be brought in aimed at easing congestion across Worcestershire and helping teenagers attend jobs or college courses easier.
A watchdog-style panel of councillors has raised the idea that the new improved bus pass could be extended to all under 25s instead of just under 19s who benefit at present.
The Severn Card is used by 1,702 young people in Worcestershire, but an in-house report warns it is becoming “unsustainable” due to pressure from commercial bus fares.
Some school pupils qualify for a free card while other young people are charged up to £547 a year for it, but the overall cost of the scheme to the county council is £860,000 a year. The report says Worcestershire County Council “could do much more” to increase its popularity, including expanding the age range and charging £1 per trip. It also calls upon the council to promote the new pass, including making it a central theme on the website.
Four options being floated as possible alternatives from August include: l A flat rate of £1 per bus trip, estimated yearly cost £1.5 million.
l Half-adult fares on all trips, estimated yearly cost £1.8 million.
l Free passes, costing up to £10 million a year l A one-off £25 charge then £1 per trip for all card holders.
Although these costs were based on restricting the cards to 11 to 19 year olds, the council is now considering expanding the scheme to 25-year-olds.
None of the options has been ruled out at present, although the report does warn some fares are already cheaper than £1 per journey, meaning a limited number of students would end up paying more.