Student campaign for cheaper bus travel across Waveney

Young people facing hefty rises in the cost of travelling to and from school are fronting a campaign for cheaper bus tickets.

Waveney Youth Council, which gives a voice to high school students in Lowestoft, Beccles and Bungay, is calling for better access to bus travel and cheaper tickets.

Its campaign, Cheaper Travel for Young People, was launched this week after the results of its Waveney-wide consultations suggested that young people were worried about the cost of bus travel – which has sky-rocketed since Suffolk County Council withdrew funding from the Explore travel card scheme.

Ryan Holt, the 17-year-old chairman of the youth council, said: 'Since the withdrawal of the Explore Card for young people, travelling prices have soared and now the average young person has to pay around �5 for a return journey to get to school or college a day.

'We hope our concerns will be listened to by the county council as too many young people are being cut off from opportunities and education due to the hike in travel fares.'

Denes High School student Charlotte Augood, 13, said increasing bus fares impacts on life outside of school as well, making it more difficult to visit friends who live in Beccles or Bungay and expensive to travel to drama or dance clubs.

'I walk to school, but it's harder to visit friends or go places on the weekend,' she said.

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Just under 400 youngsters took part in the Waveney Wide consultation, a questionnaire which was available electronically through the Waveney District Council website and the youth council's Facebook and Twitter pages.

The aim was to highlight the main concerns of young people and to adopt a set of priorities the council could then work towards.

The results of the survey showed that across Waveney, young people like the area they live in was because it was either quiet and peaceful, close to the beach or good quality parks.

However, the top three concerns were a lack of facilities for young people, dog fouling and litter. A lack of well-known shops, infrequent bus times and expensive bus fares were cited as reasons they disliked the local area.

While dog fouling was the biggest concern for young people in Beccles, Bungay and South Lowestfot, young people in North Lowestoft said crime was their main concern.

The consultation ended before Suffolk county council revealed its controversial plans to cut funding of the Explore Card and potentially close youth clubs - but the council believes it has fast become one of the biggest worries for young people right across the region.

They are now urging Suffolk council to look at reducing transport costs for young people or introduce a flat student fare that all bus operators in the county must charge.

Access and cost of transport, along with more facilities for young people, are now the council's two main priorities. Mr Holt has written a letter to Suffolk on behalf of the youth council and is hopeful new leader Mark Bee, who is due to be formally inducted as chairman at a meeting on May 26, will listen.

For more information on the priorities set by the Waveney Youth Council, including details on how to sign the cheaper bus travel petition, email youthcouncil@waveney.gov.uk or call 01502 523354.

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