Wales politics

Youth bus discount scheme ends 18 months after launch

Carwyn Jones with Charlotte Wilson Davies and Amelia Evans Image copyright Mike Dean (Eye Imagery)
Image caption Carwyn Jones launching the scheme in 2015

A £15m scheme to help young people get to jobs and training is to end 18 months after it was launched.

MyTravelPass was launched in September 2015 offering 16 to 18-year-olds a third off bus travel, but it will cease after March.

The Welsh Government said it had been launched as a pilot with funding only guaranteed for that period.

However bus operators' body CPT Cymru said the scheme was not well publicised and take-up had been low.

The project had been part of a two-year Labour-Liberal Democrat deal to pass the Welsh Government's budget during the previous assembly term, when the Lib Dems had five AMs.

Since the May 2016 election they now have just one member - Kirsty Williams, who is a minister in the Labour-led administration.

"18 months is not very long to get something established," said John Pockett, director of CPT Cymru, which he said was "disappointed that the government has decided not to continue".

"On top of that, the way the scheme was marketed by the government was very poor, and hence the low take-up."

'Difficult to believe'

He cited figures that 8,000 had signed up for the scheme out of a potential audience of around 100,000 to 110,000.

Welsh Lib Dems' spokesman Cadan ap Tomos said the party had secured the pilot scheme "because we know that young people are unfairly penalised by high fares when travelling to work or training".

"What's clear is that the implementation of the pilot by the last Labour Government was a disaster," he said.

"It's difficult to believe that despite access to affordable transport being a key concern for young people, only 7% of those eligible took it up."

But Welsh Conservative skills spokesman Mohammad Asghar said: "With a Liberal Democrat at the heart of the government, you would've expected greater protection, support and oversight of a scheme secured through one of the party's backroom deals.

"Sadly, members of the Welsh Government appear content to waste millions of pounds of hardworking taxpayers' money just to do a deal and cling onto power."

'Test the issues'

A spokesman for the Welsh Government said the scheme was launched in September 2015 as a pilot to "test the issues" influencing the use of buses by 16 to 18-year-olds.

"At the time that MyTravelPass was announced, it was confirmed that the Welsh Government's funding for the pilot scheme was only ever for the period to 31 March 2017," the spokesman said.

Initial analysis of the scheme seemed to suggest that passholders were not using their passes to travel outside their immediate areas, he added.

More detailed analysis is set to take place once the pilot is complete.

The spokesman added that the Welsh Government had asked councils, bus operators and public transport information service Traveline Cymru to consider affordable ways of continuing to offer cheaper bus travel for young people.

"While agreeing that as many 16 to 18-year-olds as possible should be encouraged to take up the discounted bus travel offer, all partners acknowledged from the outset of the pilot that a take-up of 10% would be realistic," the spokesman said.

He added: "Lessons learned from the marketing of the MyTravelPass pilot will be used to support the marketing of any future scheme."

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