MyTravelPass: Discount youth bus scheme reinstated

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Carwyn Jones with Charlotte Wilson Davies and Amelia EvansImage source, Mike Dean (Eye Imagery)
Image caption,
Carwyn Jones launched the scheme back in 2015

A £15m Welsh discount travel pass for young people that was axed has been reinstated.

Ministers had been criticised for scrapping MyTravelPass, which gave 16-18 year olds a third off bus travel.

But it will now continue beyond April until a new scheme, planned for 2018, is in place.

The move was welcomed by NUS Wales but the Welsh Conservatives said the "U-turn" highlighted historical issues over the management of projects.

MyTravelPass was established as part of a budget deal with the Liberal Democrats during the last assembly term.

The Welsh Government announced the end of the scheme in January. The announcement was criticised by bus operators and other AMs, including Labour's Lynne Neagle.

CPT Cymru, which represents the bus industry, said at the time of the decision to end the scheme that it had not been well publicised and that take-up had been low.

Image source, Thinkstock

The Welsh Government, at the time of announcing the end of the scheme, had said that it was only ever launched as a pilot with funding agreed until March 2017.

It said initial analysis suggested that pass-holders were not using their passes to travel outside their immediate areas.

But in a statement to assembly members, Economy Secretary Ken Skates said "there is clearly an appetite in Wales for a scheme of this nature".

Mr Skates said he would launch a consultation into a new youth travel pass, which he intends to launch from 2018.

The existing arrangements will continue to be available throughout Wales from 1 April 2017, the minister explained, adding he has asked CPT to come forward with proposals for a new marketing campaign.

'Learned lessons'

NUS Wales deputy president Carmen Smith welcomed the news but said the new scheme "should be extended to all learners in further education and apprentices to the age of 25".

The Welsh Liberal Democrats also welcomed the move while Welsh Conservative spokesman for skills Mohammad Asghar called it an expected "U-turn".

He said the move "once again highlights historical issues within the economy department over its management and implementation of investments and projects".

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "We made clear at the time of the draft budget that as a result of the low take up of the pilot MyTravelPass, our intention was to develop a new discount scheme for young people that learned the lessons of the pilot and which could encourage more young people to use the bus network.

"Today we have confirmed that approach."