West Sussex County Council will cease its 3in1 bus travel card on 31 December 2016 – with financial help continuing for low income families.
The County Council will discontinue the scheme in light of changes to national legislation, and as part of its savings plan to fill a £44.2m funding shortfall this year.
However, new financial arrangements are being put in place for low income families.
Help will be available for pupils aged up to 16 years old (Year 11 and below) who meet the following criteria:
- Are existing 3in1 Card holders;
- Attend the closest school outside their catchment area;
- Are not already eligible for free travel to school.
3in1 Cards are for young people aged from five to 19. Pupils and students pay £50 for the card, which entitles them to savings on bus travel.
Only about 6,000 students out of a potential 116,000 school and college goers in West Sussex use the scheme, which costs £1.2m a year.
The County Council will also provide financial support for 16-19 year olds from low income families, who use bus travel to attend full-time further education.
The County Council will continue meeting with bus operators, schools and colleges to consider future travel concessions in absence of the scheme.
County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, John O’Brien, said: “This was a difficult decision to take but we are all living and working in one of the most financially challenging times local government has ever known.
“We are looking at everything we do. 3in1 Cards are a discretionary service used by only 5% of eligible school children and college goers across our county.
“We have to look at the cost of running the overall scheme against the number of people who use it and the ever growing pressures on other areas of our work – especially across our children’s and adults’ services.”
John added: “We are taking steps to mitigate the loss of the 3in1 card for existing users when it expires.
“For families with lower incomes, we are arranging financial help if they attend the nearest school out of catchment and don’t qualify for free travel.
“For families with higher incomes, we are doing everything we can with commercial bus operators to come up with appropriate solutions to lessen the impact on current 3in1 card users.”
New and renewal cards will be available, at a reduced price, with an expiry date of 31 December 2016.
Further information will be sent to card holders during mid-August and will be available at www.your3in1.co.uk
Card holders with a card that runs after 31 December 2016 will get a partial refund (if applicable) in early 2017.
Since 3in1 Cards were introduced in 2007, there have been changes in national legislation.
West Sussex County Council has a statutory duty to provide free school travel if:
- A child is aged five to 16;
- They attend a school in their catchment area (or nearest suitable school);
- Live two or more miles away (if child is under eight) or three or more miles away (if child is over eight).
Low income families can get free school travel if:
- A child is eight or over, attends a primary school in their catchment area (or nearest school to home) and it is two or more miles away.
- A child is 11 to 16, attends a secondary school that is one of three suitable schools closest to home, and is between two and six miles away; or
- A child attends a school on grounds of religion or belief and the school is between two and 15 miles away from home, and there is no suitable alternative school nearer home.