Following this week’s official announcement that bus firms Stagecoach and Arriva are reducing children’s ticket prices and are raising the age limit to anyone 18 and under, Merseytravel Chair Cllr Liam Robinson says:
“Bus operators are listening to young people and making transport more affordable, which is something that we too have been fighting for, for a long time. Their reduction in fares is a result of many discussions and meetings with us over many months, which has also resulted in MyTicket– the first ticket of its kind outside of London, which was launched in partnership with commercial bus operators over a year ago on a trial basis for 5 to 15 year olds following our pledge to make transport more affordable for young people.
“It has proved to be such a big hit that it is not only a permanent product but last month our elected Members agreed to extend the age eligibility for the £2 MyTicket –which allows for unlimited all-day travel across the Merseyside bus network – to 18s. This will be starting from 19th July. Effectively from this Sunday, over 90% of buses in Merseyside will be providing cheaper child fares for all young people up to 19. It will make Merseyside the first area outside of London to introduce this, which is a massive win for young people in our area and has directly come by continued pressure from ourselves at Merseytravel.
“For many young people, the cost of public transport is frequently at the top of their list of concerns. They rely upon public transport, and the bus in particular, not only to get to education and employment, but also for leisure and social opportunities. We’ve been working hard with partners such as education, training providers, employers, bus and rail operators to provide a range of innovative solutions to transport issues to improve young people’s lives.
“MyTicket was just the start of this journey. And we are the first public transport body to trailblaze a product of this kind for this older age group regardless of whether they are in education or not. This reflects our commitment to listening to our young customers and trying to bring down the cost of travel for them. Plus, it is also now a requirement for young people up to the age of 18 to be in education or work-based training and we want to make sure that they can access these opportunities.
“We’re not stopping at MyTicket but looking at young people’s fares across the board.
“For example, we recognise that 18-21 year-olds face similar challenges in terms of the cost of travel and will be looking at this in more detail to see what can be done. We are continually seeking the views of young people on transport, which has led to the Transport Asks Charter where we have committed to look at any issues they raise. As part of this work, on Friday 17th July, we have invited a number of young people to meet us to discuss the latest developments on MyTicket, bus operators new fares and to find out what their other ‘asks’ are.
“Young people are the most regular users of buses but their needs are too often overlooked by operators – yet they are the users of the future. In my view, there needs to be a complete re-think of the business model with value for money the secret of its success. It needs to become a travel mode of choice rather than a mode for those who may have no choice.
“We are currently working on developing a bus strategy to reverse the decline in passenger numbers and will be developing a customer-focused way of working with operators. Young people’s needs will certainly play a big part in this work to ensure we can encourage operators to consider their asks relating to improved affordability, frequency, punctuality and reliability.
“While it’s great to see that bus firms Stagecoach and Arriva are taking our advice and reducing children’s ticket prices and are raising the age limit to anyone 18 and under – something that ultimately makes good business sense – this must not be the end of the journey.”
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