£1 bus fares trial launch date put back to next year

    Young people aged 19-21 will be able to travel on the buses in Milton Keynes for £1-per-trip when a £1 million trial scheme gets underway.

    The plan is to extend the existing All in 1 MK card, which covers 6-18 year-olds, to help young adults cut the cost of travel to education or work and give them an alternative to using cars.

    Milton Keynes Council has moved the proposed start date from September 1, 2020, to February 2021, but still intends to go ahead as planned despite current uncertainties. The decision to go ahead was taken on March 24.

    Council officers are now working through the details of how the scheme will operate, and how the bus companies involved will be paid.

    The plan is to run the trial for 18 months, and review it before the £1 million budget runs out, or if a review concludes that the scheme is not being used.  Its use will be monitored each month.

    The council is also planning to talk to commercial cycle operators and railway company London North Western to agree concessionary rates for 16 to 21-year-olds.

    “On turning 19, users are required to pay a full fare, which increases the cost of travel considerably,” a council report said.

    “It is intended that increasing the eligibility of the concession to 19, 20 and 21 year-olds will discourage young adults from driving and reduce car ownership in the long term.

    “This will contribute towards the council’s carbon reduction ambitions as well as reducing travel costs for young adults who are likely to just be commencing work or entering higher education.

    “A trial is proposed to determine whether offering cheaper travel will encourage young people to continue using buses and reduce the likelihood of car ownership among Milton Keynes residents who might otherwise be looking to buy their first vehicle.”

    During the budget setting process, some councillors urged the leadership to have a plan in case the money runs out.

    Council officers say the 18 month trial has a fixed budget, and it will be monitored on a monthly basis to assess uptake, the impact on travel habits and whether young adults shy away from owning cars.

    Findings from the trial will be reported back to the council’s cabinet in 2022.

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