Somerset student bus pass scheme gets reprieve

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A bus pass scheme for students in Somerset will be extended for one more year, it has been confirmed.

The future of the County Ticket scheme was in doubt but now the Conservative-led county council will offer the discounted ticket, which costs £535.

Councillor Harvey Siggs, said: "I'm really pleased we have been able to strike a deal that in effect extends a great discount to students."

A £700,000 subsidy from the council is paid every year towards the scheme.

The County Ticket scheme runs 22 routes around Somerset.

A £30 increase on the ticket price of the 2011/2012 academic year was agreed at a full council meeting in February, although the future of the scheme had not been ascertained at the time.

'Plan alternatives'

A final decision on the long-term future of the scheme is still being discussed between the council, bus operators and colleges.

"We are having to look at a bleak financial future and there is every chance that the County Ticket will not continue," said Mr Siggs.

"I want to give students, colleges and bus operators as much time as possible to plan alternatives should the County Ticket scheme finally come to a stop."

Earlier this week, Somerset County Council said it was facing an unexpected bill of nearly £3m after it discovered a bus subsidy deal made in 2008 was "very poor value".

The council confirmed, at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, that the "overspend" was owed.

The Transporting Somerset department has to save £3.7m over the next three years as a result of the the government's Spending Review, which reduced the council's budget.

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