29/11/2011 - Permalink

Proposed charges for discretionary college transport: have your say

Related topics: Community / My area

Transport charges for college students in Shropshire are currently among the lowest in the country, and people are being asked for their views on proposals to bring them in line with other councils across the country.

Shropshire Council is doing everything possible to mitigate the effects of Government spending cuts to help students get to school and college – and Shropshire was the second highest in a list of 55 unitary councils for the amount spent on home to school transport in 2009/10.

The council provides free transport from home to primary, secondary and special schools for more than 8,000 pupils, while 900 entitled post-16 college students have to make a financial contribution towards their bus tickets.

Councillors have agreed to consult on more realistic charges for the post-16 concessionary scheme, for which the council currently charges less than neighbouring councils, and is substantially below the national average.  Many councils are expected to significantly increase charges even more.

The proposals should not have an adverse impact on vulnerable groups, including pupils or students with statements of special educational needs, and those whose families are in receipt of certain benefits.

Discussions are also taking place with bus companies in Shropshire about allowing students to use their passes on any services in the future, rather than just on the route they use to get to college.

People are being asked for their views on the following proposals:

  • Increasing the post-16 parental/student transport contribution charge from 92p per journey (£330 per year) to £1.17 per journey (£420 per year).
  • Requiring an annual £30 administrative charge for each successful post-16 application to cover the costs of processing and ticket production.

The consultation will last until 31 January 2012.

Councillor Cecilia Motley, Cabinet member for education and skills, said:

“We were among the country’s unitary councils that spent the most on home to school transport in 2009/10 and have some of the lowest charges for our discretionary schemes.  We absolutely appreciate the challenges of getting teenagers to college, and are doing everything we can to encourage youngsters to learn.

“But we have to look at the best possible use of our resources as we review everything we do in the light of Government spending reductions.  These proposals will only affect a small percentage of students, and even if the increases are implemented the charges will still be on a par or cheaper than many other areas.

“Students are being contacted about the proposals now, so I would urge parents and carers to check whether the changes may affect them – and have their say.”

Comments can be sent to Andy Evans at Passenger Transport, Shropshire Council, Shirehall, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury SY2 6ND or emailed to andy.evans@shropshire.gov.uk by 31 January 2012.