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UK youth Parliament members Jessica Barnard, Sarah Freestone and Rory Cruikshank, councillors and bus company representatives launch the new reduced bus fares for 16-19 year olds initiative at County Hall. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY
By Mark Shields
Friday, August 31, 2012
Young people can benefit from cheaper travel across three-quarters of Norfolk’s bus network from tomorrow.
In an agreement that is the first of its kind nationally, all of the county’s main operators are reducing their fares by up to a third for young people aged 16 to 19 as part of Norfolk County Council’s collection of Better Bus Area improvements.
Transport bosses joined members of the Youth Parliament at County Hall in Norwich today to welcome the discount, which will be offered on Anglian Bus, Coach Services, First, Konectbus, Norfolk Green, Sanders Coaches and Simonds, and cover around 75pc of routes in Norfolk.
Some operators had already been offering reduced fares to young people, but the county council voluntary agreement brings the largest operators together to make transport cheaper for those relying on buses for work or education.
Graham Plant, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: “These proposals will help young people get to college, to work and even socialise on nights out.”
Tracy Jessop, assistant director of transport and travel, said the county council had shown operators a sound business case for reducing fares, and that she expected other operators to follow suit.
Rob Bennett, of Norfolk Green, which began offering the discount in 2007, said the decision had improved relations with passengers and boosted teenage passenger numbers
“We found they weren’t arguing over dates of birth any more. It gave us a competitive edge and we have seen the number of adult passengers go up too,” he said.
The last Norfolk operator to join the agreement was First, but regional commercial manager Steve Wickers said he hoped the deal could point the way others across the country.
Sarah Freestone, 17, the member of Youth Parliament for Great Yarmouth, said reducing bus travel costs had been a priority, and that she hoped it would encourage greater bus use.
George Nobbs, county council Labour group leader, welcomed the agreement, built on Labour proposals, to address the “huge handicap” of young people’s travel costs.
Will reducing fares encourage more young people to use public transport? Leave your comments below.