Kent County Council's Young Person Travel Pass to rise to £350 per school year

by My Kent Family reporter

Going to school could cost £60 more from September.

Kent County Council's Young Person Travel Pass is due to rise from £290 to £350 per school year.

As the fees are going up, the council is offering guardians a chance to pay by instalments for a £10 administration fee.

The cost of school bus travel in Kent is increasing
The cost of school bus travel in Kent is increasing

On top of that, families will only be charged for the first two passes they purchase.

The majority of councillors on the Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee approved the plans to cut £800,000 from the scheme's budget.

However, members of the opposition, Cllr Barry Lewis (Lab), Cllr Martin Whybrow (Green), Cllr Rob Bird (Lib Dem) and Cllr Antony Hook (Lib Dem) voted against the plans.

Cllr Hook told the committee, meeting on March 19, how he used to travel to school in Kent for free in the 1990s.

He said: "I really regret this and the extra £60 is a kick in the teeth to families, or £120 if they have two children at a time where cost of living is already going up with more money on council tax, grocery bill and energy bills.

"Society in 2019 is vastly richer than it was in 1991 so just looking at the big picture, I don't understand why we were able to provide all our schoolchildren with free transport in 1991 but we have to charge them in 2019."

The representative for Faversham added the price of public transport could be "dissuading parents" from getting their children on the bus which is causing congestion and parking issues.

However, cabinet member for transport Cllr Mike Whiting (Con) said the council does not have the cash to fund free transport for all children. He said: "This is almost unique this scheme. If you lived in Buckinghamshire, Cheshire, you simply don't get any help getting your children to school.

"We have maintained something that other councils simply don't provide but to do that we've had to reduce the subsidy that we are able to offer.

"It would be lovely to throw more money at this but the county council doesn't have more money to throw at it."

However, he added there was a discount for pupils eligible for free school meals; their pass will cost only £100. Children in care, care leavers, and young people with Catch 22, will continue to receive transport for free.

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