The National Union of Students (NUS) is calling for free bus and tram travel to be extended to all apprentices and 16- to 19-year-olds in the long term, after a survey revealed that students are concerned about the cost of their education.
NUS has released a briefing on the travel experiences of further education learners and apprentices. It includes a survey of 1,000 16- to 19-year-olds in the UK—half of whom said they were concerned about the cost of their education, at the same time as spending more than £20 a week on their travel.
The call for subsidised travel was made spontaneously by one in 10 of the survey respondents, according to NUS, particularly for those on apprentice wages who will often earn £3.50 per hour.
NUS made a number of recommendations, including the extension of discounts that currently available either to those 18 or under or those in full-time study to apprentices.
Apprentices, and all those undertaking study (full or part-time), should also be eligible for a 16-25 railcard regardless of age, just as is the case for those currently in full-time education. To make the railcard more useful for commuting to work and study, the peak time minimum fare cap should be lifted from usage conditions.
In the long term, NUS would like to see free bus and tram travel, if not all travel, extended to all apprentices and 16-19 year olds, enabling young people to access further study, training or work without a financial barrier.
NUS vice president for further education Emily Chapman said of the issue: “Unsurprisingly half of learners surveyed were concerned about cost but that wasn’t the only issue. The reliability and availability of transport can cause the biggest barriers with vast differences between regions. Subsidised travel for further education learners and apprentices must be a priority for this government who have made promises to better fund local authority travel. To ensure it is no longer a barrier to the millions of further education students and apprentices, public transport infrastructure must meet the needs of our learners.”