Youth transport card unveiled
YOUNG people in Suffolk will benefit from half price bus and train travel in a new identity card scheme starting next month.The Xcape card is free for everyone under the age of 20, regardless of whether they are in full-time education, and will attract discounts of up to 50% on all the county's bus services and off-peak trains.
YOUNG people in Suffolk will benefit from half price bus and train travel in a new identity card scheme starting next month.
The Xcape card is free for everyone under the age of 20, regardless of whether they are in full-time education, and will attract discounts of up to 50% on all the county's bus services and off-peak trains.
The new Suffolk County Council initiative launches tomorrow with the support of local DJs, who will visit Lowestoft, Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds to promote the cards, which come into effect on February 5.
"There's a massive demand by young people wanting to travel and costs are a key limiting factor," said councillor Kevan Lim , who predicted that if the scheme was successful, the increased mobility of young people could lead to a £2-3 million boost to the county's economy.
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All students will automatically receive an Xcape card, unless parents of those under 16 choose for them to opt out.
Photographers have already visited schools and colleges throughout Suffolk, taking pictures for the cards, and those not in full-time education can apply by filling in an application form, available from libraries and bus stations.
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There are two types of card - purple for the under 16s and green for those aged 16-19 - and both will apply to all bus operators across Suffolk.
In Ipswich, cardholders travelling on Ipswich Buses and First Eastern Counties services will be charged a flat rate of 40p per single journey and 80p return. Xcape cardholders will also receive a reduced rate on Ipswich Buses' young persons 10 Journey ticket, which will be £3.70, and on 28-day unlimited travel passes, which will be £15.
On the trains, cardholders will get half price adult off-peak fares for travel within Suffolk, including Cheap Day and Saver singles and returns, and the Anglia Plus one and three day tickets. There is a £2 discount on Super Advanced tickets to London, as well as reduced rates for some destinations outside Suffolk, including Cambridge, Colchester, Ely, Manningtree, Chelmsford, Diss, Harwich and Norwich.
Suffolk County Council leader Bryony Rudkin felt that some people in rural areas had previously been excluded from public services and thought the new cards would help redress the problem.
"We are really proud of the scheme as it's a good way of engaging young people," she said, adding that special offers and information would be sent to participants via SMS messaging and emails.
Mr Lim acknowledged that bus services in certain pockets of the county had been poor, but hoped that an increase in passengers would lead to better responses from the operators.
The scheme will cost in the region of £1.7 million, which, according to Mr Lim, will be paid for out of the £23 million transport budget. "This will not affect council tax. We will cover the costs within existing resources," he said.
Vibe FM DJ's Adam Newstead and Rory K will be at tomorrow's launch of the Xcape card, at the Britten Centre in Lowestoft from 10am-12noon (DJs from 10am-11am), outside Ipswich Town Hall from 11.30am-1.30pm (DJs from 12.30pm-1.30pm), and finally in Bury St Edmunds at Cornhill Walk from 2pm-4pm (DJs from 2.30pm-3.30pm). Everyone is welcome to go along to find out more about the benefits and savings on offer.
Application forms are available from libraries, bus and railway stations, by phone on 0844 800 0101, or online at www.xcape.org.uk.