Free bus travel being considered for 16 to 18 year olds in Nottinghamshire

Nottinghamshire County Council is considering free bus travel for 16 to 18 year olds.

This is following a request by councillor Tom Hollis at a meeting of the council’s new Environment and Transport Committee.

Tom urged the council to follow the example of Greater Manchester – where 16 to 18s enjoy free bus travel.

Councillor Hollis, who represents Carsic, Huthwaite and Sutton, claims that it will increase social mobility as well as helping those in poorer areas of the county.

Young people between 16 and 18 could get free travel on Notts buses.

He said: “Figures show that the majority of 16-18 years use buses as their primary mode of travel.

"It’s critical that we improve the social mobility of our young people. Free bus travel for 16-18s would increase access to education, jobs and allow them to explore our wonderful county. It could save young people and their families more than £500 a year. I am very pleased that the council will now look at my sensible suggestion and I would ask them to do a feasibility study at the earliest opportunity.”

Councillor Hollis made the request when discussing the council’s school transport policy.

He said: “Would this committee agree to carry out a feasibility study into free bus travel for 16-18 year olds, non-means tested to improve social mobility? This would be similar to Greater Manchester’s ‘Our Pass’ where 16-18 year olds enjoy free bus travel – providing the freedom to travel, work and learn.

"I also feel that as we recover from Covid, this will provide extra footfall in town centres and improve access to our leisure centres.”

Speaking at the meeting, Gary Wood, the Head of Highways and Transport at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “This is very much going to be part of the bus service plan work. We can work with the bus operators on that. This is something we are very keen to explore.”

‘Our Pass’ is run by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. It has been a huge success in the conurbation since it was launched in September 2019. It means that young people aged 16 to 18 can travel for free by bus across Greater Manchester. It is sponsored by JD Sports and is being run on a two-year pilot.

Councillor Hollis, the Ashfield Independent deputy leader of Ashfield District Council, added: “In one part of the country – young people are allowed to travel for free. Here in Nottinghamshire – our young people are having to fork out over £500 a year.

"The price of buses can be prohibitive for many – especially in the poorer areas of North Nottinghamshire including parts of Carsic, Huthwaite, Mansfield, the Selston Parish and Sutton.

"It’s only 52 miles to Manchester City Centre from Huthwaite – yet young people in Huthwaite pay but young people in Manchester don’t.

"The Independent group on the county plan to end this post-code lottery and improve social mobility. I will be writing to the Social Mobility Commission asking for their support. I hope that as part of any feasibility study – we can look at sponsorship opportunities and additional government funding to get a FARE deal for our young people.”