Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southampton students offered travel discounts

Students in Southampton are to receive discounted bus travel in a scheme funded by bus operators and government grants.

College or sixth form students aged 16 to 19 will be eligible for the cheaper fares during academic terms and half-term breaks.

The most disadvantaged students will have their travel fully funded, while most students will get a 30% discount.

Travel cards will give unlimited travel within the city from 06:00 to midnight.

On average the bus operators in the city are contributing £15 per ticket, while Southampton City Council is contributing the same amount using government money.

Bursary scheme

It said the scheme was being introduced following the withdrawal of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

EMA payments of up to £30 a week were given to students from low-income households in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland if they stayed on at school or college.

But the government argued that EMA was expensive and wasteful and replaced it with a new £180m bursary scheme in 2011.

The council said the loss of the EMA had affected more than 2,200 young people in Southampton - approximately half of all 16 to 19-year-old students in the city.

The discount bus travel card scheme, which will see travel cards cost £6 a week, was initially trialled in 2011/12 when the council was controlled by the Conservative group. Its leader Royston Smith said he fully supported this kind of targeted funding.

Councillor Sarah Bogle, Labour cabinet member for children's services, said: "It's crucial that we as a council do all we can to remove any barriers that could prevent young people staying in education - and young people have told us that the cost of getting to classes was one of these barriers."

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