Suffolk: Thousands sign up in battle to save Explore card for teenagers
SUFFOLK: Thousands of protesters have joined a fight to overturn a ruling to axe funding for a discounted travel scheme for young people.
More than 2,700 have already signed a petition organised by Caroline Page, county councillor for Woodbridge, who is campaigning to reinstate the subsidy in order to save the Explore card.
Suffolk County Council withdrew funding from March 31 – meaning students and other youngsters will now have to find the full fare for travelling to and from college by bus as well as getting about town.
Discounted off-peak rail travel has now ceased as well.
However, Ms Page, believes it is vital the subsidy continues and is currently galvanising support to overturn the ruling.
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And she may be in with a chance, because there is currently a consultation under way looking at whether or not it was the right decision.
If she can get 3,675 signatures for the petition before the end of the consultation, it will be enough to take the matter back to the council for discussion again.
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Ms Page said: “The proposed abolition is a retrograde step that threatens the very education and employment opportunities that our young people need in order to help us out of our current economic crisis. It also makes a mockery of our ‘Greenest County’ aspirations.
“There are nearly 30,000 Explore card holders aged between 16 and 19. They all get half-price travel. I think it’s invaluable because of all the advantages it gives, and the length of time those advantages will last.
“Transport is not only a question of getting from A to B, it’s about all the life choices that go with it.
“The impact of the council’s decision is going to hit everybody.
“Up until now young people have had this card to help with travel costs to post-16 education, to work, to find work, and for socialising.
“The proposed abolition of the card would mean there will be more cars on the road because many more young people will be driven or drive to school, college, employment etc.
“It will put more less confident cyclists on busier roads. It will also lead to less take-up of full-time education because of difficulties of access. It will also harm young people’s chances of going for job interviews and training.”
The decision to abolish the subsidy for the Explore card was made in February at a full county council meeting.
If you would like to sign up to the petition log on to http://petitions.web-labs.co.uk/suffolk cc/public/Save-the-eXplore-card-