From November, half-fare bus and train travel is set to be extended to all 16 to 18 year-olds living in West Yorkshire. The change is part of plans by West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) to increase young people’s access to apprenticeships and training.
Concessionary travel is currently available to young people aged between 5 and 16 and those between 16 and 18 who are in full time further education and resident in West Yorkshire. Today’s West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) meeting approved the use of the organisation’s Wellbeing Powers to extend the scheme to all 16 to 18 year-olds living in the county.
Initially, 16 to 18 year olds will be asked to apply for the new Concessionary MCard smartcards at Bus Station Travel Centres but online applications will be rolled out in 2016.
WYCA Chair, Cllr Peter Box said: “We were concerned that travel costs could act as a barrier to young people accessing apprenticeship and training and entering the workplace.
“The Combined Authority is committed to helping our City Region’s businesses to offer apprenticeships, creating jobs and developing training that meets local employers’ needs and extending concessionary travel will help ensure young people are able to take advantage of these opportunities.
“Wellbeing powers enable us to take actions which will promote and improveme the economic conditions of area, which certainly covers this move to improving young people’s ability to take up apprenticeships, training and job opportunities through cheaper travel.”
WYCA Transport Committee Chair, Cllr Keith Wakefield said: “The Combined Authority is well aware of the financial difficulties faced by young people in education and on training programmes and apprenticeships and this extension of our concessions scheme goes some way to addressing these problems.
“Research carried out by pteg, the Passenger Transport Executive Group has shown that simple and consistent fares can help young people aged over 16 who, in order to attend training or take part in an apprenticeship, may need to make multiple journeys in a day.
“The kind of flat, affordable fare we are planning to introduce can also enable these young people to widen their job search area and attend interviews.
“WYCA already spends around £55m each year providing concessionary travel for 300,000 Senior, disabled, blind and young people and effective financial management by the Combined Authority means we will be able to extend this scheme for 16 to 18 year-olds from within existing resources.”
LEP Chair Roger Marsh OBE said: “Enabling more young people to take up an apprenticeship and start the journey into highly skilled jobs and a career for the future supports our ambition to develop a skilled and flexible workforce across the Leeds City Region.
“We know through our own apprenticeship programme that businesses are looking to take on more apprentices to help their productivity and pass on vital skills, particularly in niche markets, to the next generation. This concessionary travel agreement confirmed today, means more young people will be able to take up an apprenticeship and reap the benefits of earning and learning simultaneously.”