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Saturday, June 15, 2019

School bus fares in Notts increase by 17%

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Bus travel for young people going to school in Nottinghamshire is set to get significantly more expensive.

The rise will affect three different schemes: season passes for pupils who live within a catchment area; the Post 16 scheme; and the faith travel scheme.

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The three passes will go up in price by 17 per cent from this September, and then up by 17 per cent again from in September 2020.

The council said the measures will help them save £50,000 a year both years.

But one councillor warned it could put families off from applying for the best school for their children.

Most children who live three or more miles away from a school will still be offered free transport, but three groups of parents will now have to pay more for their children’s passes.

Children who live closer than three miles to a school but still need to get the bus qualify for the catchment scheme, and will pay an extra £80 a year from next September.

Children who go to a faith school can get subsidised travel if they live between two and 25 miles from the school. This is known as the faith pass scheme, and these parents will pay an extra £110 a year from next September.

A third concessionary scheme – the post 16 pass – makes bus tickets cheaper for young people. This pass will go up by £45 a year from next September.

Councillor Tom Hollis, who represents Sutton West for the Ashfield Independents, was the only councillor to vote against the plans at the meeting of Nottinghamshire County Council’s communities and place committee.

He said: “I’m very much against these proposals. A 17 percent increase is ludicrous, and I think if we were proposing a 17 percent increase in council tax, or anything else, there would be uproar.

“This is going to mean some families choose not to send their kids to the school they want to.”

Labour councillor John Knight, who represents Kirkby-in-Ashfield, said the council should previously have agreed to increase the costs gradually year by year to avoid the ‘eye-watering’ increase now proposed.

The council said the subsidised prices are 30 per cent lower than the current costs. The faith travel scheme has not been increased since 2007, while the catchment school discretionary pass price was last changed in 2009.

They also say the plan to make the changes over two years meant it was “easier to accommodate for parents and provides a good level of notice of the changes”.

The price of the catchment scheme will go up from £220 per year currently to £257 from September, and then up to £300 from September 2020.

The faith pass scheme will go up from £300 a year currently to £350 from September, and then £410 from September ’20.

The post-16 scheme will go up from £120 a year to £140, then to £165 in September 2020.

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