School bus passes to rise to £550

Finances

By Local Democracy Reporter Simon Finlay

School bus passes face an inflation-busting price hike of more than 18%.

The Kent Travel Saver (KTS) will rise from £450 to £550 next term, affecting nearly 14,000 students.

KTS, offered by Kent County Council (KCC), is a discretionary travel concession aimed at secondary school students.

KCC was able to hold the cost in 2023-24 because of funding provided through the Department for Transport’s Bus Improvement Plan.

But in the 2024-25 term, the price has been hiked by 18.18% due to “operation inflation.”

A low-income pass will remain at £120 and a limited number will be free to some users, such as carers.

The issue will come up for discussion by members of the Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee next Tuesday (May 21) at County Hall in Maidstone.

Papers state that without DfT subsidies, next term’s cost could have been as high as £650. The current total of bus passes is 13,376 with an additional 2,500 on low income tickets.

Chairman Cllr Sean Holden said the price increases are largely determined by the charges set by the bus companies who provide the service.

He added: “Most of the county councils in the country do not do this. It still represents value for money and around £1.45 per trip – cheaper than if we were not providing the subsidy.”

The KCC papers state: “Even at £550 the pass is still considered to provide value to the user.

“When compared over 190 school days, the KTS will still deliver a daily cost of £2.89 or £1.45 per trip.

“This is lower than commercial daily bus fares and lower than the £2 fare cap, which ends December 24.

“The KTS also still provides significant value against a number of operator period tickets, which can range in price from £550 to £1400 per academic year.”

County Councillor Barry Lewis

Margate Labour member, Cllr Barry Lewis said: “This is a Tory stealth tax. It is nearly six times the rate of inflation and yet again the Kent tax-payers are going to have to pick up the tab for Tory austerity measures.”

KCC is taking a forensic approach to its finances as it faces having to make tens of millions of pounds in savings to make the books balance next year.

If the authority fails to do so, it faces having to issue a section 114 notice – an admission of effective bankruptcy.

Green Party KCC member Cllr Mark Hood said: “The difference in the savings parents can make on the bus pass is narrowing, so why wouldn’t people get into their cars?

“Environmental considerations are totally disregarded in this.”

The 16-plus travel card will also go up to £600.

A Kent County Council (KCC) statement said: “This funding is being used again this year to help keep the cost to parents as low as possible but, in light of the considerable financial pressures the council faces to maintain its statutory services, the cost of the pass is needed to increase so that we can continue to provide the scheme within current subsidy levels.

“Even with this increase, depending on the journey being made, a full cost Travel Saver pass can save up to 50% on the cost of bus travel compared to operator tickets.

“The council does not control buses, but this is a way that we can continue to help parents with cost and encourage the use of bus services to get to school.”

30 Comments

  1. By taking my two grandchildren on the school run ,I save my daughter £1100 a year,I drop them off at school and then do my shopping,kills two birds with one stone ,as they say.And they are safe

  2. Perhaps Barry should instead be encouraging kids to walk or cycle, and help reduce the appalling obesity rates of British kids who rely on buses and cars.

  3. I absolutely would not be encouraging any kids to cycle on Thanet roads, it is far too dangerous. Cycle path provision is completely inadequate and too many drivers behave aggressively and dangerously towards cyclists. I have cycled in and around Thanet my whole life and it has never been worse.

  4. What on earth is wrong with walking? I guess today’s scholars are too fat or too lazy.

    I walked from Cliftonville to Salmestone at primary school and Cliftonville to Broadstairs at secondary school.

    The last thing we need is more cyclists. Adults are bad enough but I hate to think what hundreds of children on cycles would mean to road safety.

    Do they still offer cycling proficiency lessons at school? I was a Knight of the road.

    • Showing your age ,it is not safe for children to walk over a mile to the schools these days should be, but it is not .As a concerned grandparent i would be upset if anything was to happen to my grandchildren on walking over a mile to school,maybe you don’t care about safety of children ,but I do.Saving my daughter £1100 a year is the right thing to do

      • So these kids are never allowed out of their home unaccompanied to roam more than a mile from home? At which age will they be allowed to do so? And when they’ve achieved that age will they make their own way to school without a bus?

        • I’m glad we had the relative freedom to go out and play (and no mobile phones for parents to track our movements!). I guess that’s why I still like to keep active today.

    • I used to love walking the hour or so too and from school when I was at the juniors (aged 7-10) – and that was in London, far more unsafe even in the 70s than Thanet is now. Today’s kids are lazy wimps!

      • Obvious if you have grandchildren you don’t care about their safety,where as do and they swim walk and one sided horses

        • I’m currently in Serbia, and saw a large party of adolescent school children on a trip to a medieval fort. Not ONE of them was even chubby.

          Our country is becoming an embarrassment, with one in three children obese. Doesn’t this bother you at all?

  5. 😂
    Tbh I’d have thought that oldies like Pink could be a bit more thankful and humble.
    Their free bus passes are off the back of the higher fares the rest of us pay. Which is what the article is about after all.

    • True but, ms pink/Peter is just a idiot,opens his mouth before he thinks about what he says,normally bs

    • I’d get a free pass if I was Scottish, Welsh or a Londoner. Unfortunately, the rest of England are treated like 3rd class citizens in our own country.

        • Unlike the UK’s open borders, Serbia is very fussy who they let in (so much so, we’re advised to carry our passports with us at all times – or get arrested). Indeed, I’ve spent the last fortnight in 5 countries – Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria – and of the 1000’s of people I’ve seen, I’ve yet to see ONE black or Asian person. I also haven’t smelt any dope, or seen any women with tattoos and piercings. Oh, and people smoke in cafes and bars, just like the good ol’ pre-nanny state days! It’s all certainly opened my eyes.

          Have a lovely day… and take the family out for some fresh air and exercise!

  6. Barry the article clearly states that the cost was held in 23/24 so the increase is against the 22/23 year, can you really nelieve that inflation over the last two years has only been 3% ( 18 / 6 =3) , your the epitomy of the absurdity of politics with such pointless statements blatantly intended to mislead and further your political beliefs / hates.
    It makes you no better than those you berate.
    The hard left view that everyone should be equal and no matter how hard you strive or innovate you should not expect to prosper is just daft, but is precisely how many on the left seem to want things to be. It’s impossible to tax a nation to prosperity.

  7. What’s wrong with wanting everyone to be “equal” ? (Although that’s a rather too simple way of putting it.) Surely this is a Christian (and other religions’) view of how things should be,as well as the socialist view?

    • Nothing so long as people put the effort into becoming more equal, to which end the country has an education system , a health system, social support etc etc, there’s no lack of opportunity if people wish to use it, but is they don’t then they can expect a more basic life on the backs of others. So think that those that have put the time effort and risk into achieving more should be taxed until the pips squeak in order to subsidise those with their hands out is absurd, and will only make the country unattractive for those that are successful and they’ll leave. The top 5% of earners already pay nearly 50% of all income tax and the top 1% around 25% of the total take. How much more do the left expect them to support others?
      Plus it shouldn’t be forgotten that someone on benefits in social housing and not doing any work , earns infinitely more per hour than i ever will, is that equal?
      What is the definition of equality? As for religion , it’s purely the earliest form of population control that didn’t require quite so much overt violence, promise the faithfull a better “life” after death so long as they put up with the privations of their real existence. It was only when politiicans realised you gained more control by bribing people with other peoples money that the system moved away from religion. All that before you consider the amount of death and suffering that has resulted from adherence to religious belief rather than common humanity.
      The Gazza conflict being a prime example, primarily led by political extremeists who rely on the masses toeing the religious line rather than actually thinking about what they’re doing.

  8. A survey of childhood obesity in Serbia in 2019 found that 30% 0f children aged 5-14 were overweight, including obesity. About 12% of them were obese. The rate of obesity among Serbian children is rising.

    Data from the World Obesity Federation.

  9. Most of the people I see around are not overweight. So it is not easy for me to believe this.

    • That’s necause the nations view of what’s “normal” has been skewed by the ever increasing waistline becoming accepted as normal when in fact huge numbers of the new normal are very overweight. Many see me as being a beanpole, but my bmi is 26 and so I’m overweight. But in a crowd i’ll be one of the slimmer present.
      Of course the issue is compounded by a health service staffed by a significant proportion who are obese let alone overweight.
      The country is sleepwalking into a huge health and care crisis, inability to work, low self esteem, fertility issues, ever increasing demand for hip replacements for ever younger people and massive increases in diabetes.
      In hears to come there will be an acceptance that excess weight was a major factor in the susceptibility to covid ( namely due to the overweight being unfit and had poor cardiovascular and pulmonary function).
      But in the name of not upsetting people politicians and the health service won’t say much as it’d be unpopular at the ballot box. The tide is seemingly turning as we don’t hear so much of the “any weight is a healthy weight if you’re happy” tripe.
      A bit pointless endlessly funding an nhs to treat people that have little regard for their own wellbeing .

      • I just checked my BMI… I’m 23.5, which is the upper end of “normal” – yet people call me “skinny”!

        • The IoTN’s Commenting Policy has things to say about personal details.
          It would be rather wonderful if you would read and abide by the Policy.

          • What’s your BMI, Phyllis?

            Of course, no-one’s forcing anyone to reveal their levels of obesity, but it does somehow skew one’s judgement of how many others are overweight – does it not?

            Either way, there are far less fatties in Serbia.

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