Thousands of teenagers across the county could be stripped of their council–provided discount travel to and from school as the authority seeks to make millions of pounds worth of savings.
Derbyshire County Council is consulting on changes to the student travel scheme b_line, which include cutting the service for students below the age of 16.
The authority’s reasoning behind the proposed cuts travel for under 16s is that it claims most operators offer a same of better discount that the b_line card. Other proposals include reducing the discount from one third to 25 per cent for people aged 16 to 19 years and extending b_line2 to include young people aged 16 to 19 who are not currently in full time education.
The council claims that the move would mean a £720,000 saving would be made as it is looking for ways to save £157million from its budget by 2018.
Commenting on the cuts to the b_line service, Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan said: “We have as a Government had to make some very difficult decisions.”
She added that she was aware that council’s up and down the country had been faced with tough choices when it came to cuts and said there was a ‘clear legal framework’ as to what level of school transport needed to be provided.
However she said: “I think it’s right to make sure there is equal access to transport.”
The council claims the proposed changed would mean an extra 6,000 young people would have access to cut–price travel through the b_line2 scheme,including apprentices, young people in other types of training and those looking for work.
Councillor Dean Collins, cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructure, said: “Since b_line was launched students now have to stay on at school longer, plus there are different opportunities for young people, other than school. In recognition of this we are proposing to make the travel discounts more widely available so that other groups of young people, such as apprentices, can potentially benefit.
“While we are proposing to extend the scheme we are still confident savings can be made as we are reducing the discount to 25 per cent and most young people will still be able to benefit from the ticket discounts offered by the bus and rail companies so there is no cost to the council.”
The consultation was launched on Wednesday and people can take part by visiting www.derbyshire.gov.uk/blinechanges. Closing date is midnight, Sunday, March 22.