Agenda item - Items referred from Council

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Agenda item

Items referred from Council

To consider items referred from the last meeting of Full Council held on 3 February 2022:

 

Deputations:

 

(1)           Bus Travel for Young People

Minutes:

(c)      Deputations

 

82.1      The Committee considered a deputation referred from the Public Engagement Meeting held on 3 February 2022 that requested the Council investigate a free bus travel policy for residents under 17.

 

82.2      The Chair provided the following response:

 

“Firstly, I would like to thank David and Class Divide for the deputation and all the work you have been doing on this. I and my colleagues on this committee and on the Children, Young People and Skills Committee want to see fair access to education and opportunities for young people across the city. I acknowledge the important role transport policy, including in relation to buses, has in this and can see the potential benefits of making buses free for young people.

As an administration, it is our ultimate aspiration that young people can travel on buses for free as they do in London and Scotland. This is reflected in our ambitious Bus Service Improvement Plan which we submitted to the Department for Transport last year. Along with other authorities, we are currently waiting to hear the outcome of funding for this.

Whilst our fingers are crossed, I do sadly need to provide a bit of caution on this. We expect that free fares would cost at least £6m per year which would need to be publicly funded. Even if government funding is awarded to help provide lower fares to young people, they have asked that proposals are sustainable. This is so we avoid a situation where generous offers are suddenly removed when funding ends. I agree we need to be careful with this and unfortunately have to say the council’s finances mean we could not commit to ongoing funding at this level.

However, officers are currently working with neighbouring authorities on different options for an additional discount scheme above what is currently offered by bus operators. We hope to announce more on this once we know what funding will be available. We also want to work with bus operators to make sure people are always getting the lowest fare available to them.

I acknowledge that Class Divide would like us to ask bus operators to make more commitments themselves. On this point, I have to say that operators continue to be impacted by lower passenger numbers as a result of the pandemic. Therefore, at this time, increased costs or reduced revenue to them would risk reduced services. I very much welcome support funding the Department for Transport has provided during the pandemic, which has largely avoided service cuts. I am pleased to see the Secretary of State’s decision this month to extend support until October which will be critical as the city recovers. However, he has said this will be the final payment. The priority for operators after this will therefore need to be on maintaining services.

I can though commit to working as hard as we can with bus operators through our Enhanced Partnership to deliver improvements to bus services. If funding is received for the Bus Service Improvement Plan, it is our intention that a report will be brought to a future meeting of this committee with more detailed plans. I have also asked officers to engage with Class Divide as we develop proposals”.

 

82.3      Councillor Platts moved a motion to call for an officer report on the matter.

 

82.4      Councillor Wilkinson formally seconded the motion.

 

82.5      The Chair put the motion to the vote that passed.

 

82.6      Resolved- That the Committee receive an officer report responding to the deputation.

 

Supporting documents:

 


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