A scheme giving apprentices and trainees aged 18 or under half price travel on the region’s bus, train and tram network has been launched.
The move by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) will see an extra 31,000 young people across the metropolitan area enjoy the 50 per cent discount.
It will benefit those on apprenticeships or traineeships who currently have to pay the full adult fare.
Alyssia Samra, left, and Matthew Astley with Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street.
Previously, only those aged between 16 and 18 and in full-time education were eligible for half price travel.
The scheme was launched at the new National College of High Speed Rail in Birmingham by Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street.
He was joined by representatives from bus and Midland Metro operator National Express West Midlands, and West Midlands Trains, the new franchise holder for rail services in the region.
There they met two apprentices with HS2 who will benefit from the scheme.
Alyssia Samra, aged 16, from Harborne, Birmingham, has just finished her GCSEs and is an apprentice in transport planning.
Matthew Astley, aged 17, from Fordhouses, Wolverhampton, is doing an apprenticeship in project management.
Both are based at HS2’s Snowhill offices in Birmingham.
Mr Street said: “The West Midlands Combined Authority felt there was a gap in the provision of help with travel for apprentices and trainees, which is why we have made this available.
“Apprentices tend to be on very low incomes so it’s only right they have the same support as people in further education.
“Alysia and Matthew are precisely the young people this scheme is intended for.
“By giving them a helping hand now we are investing not just in their futures but also in the region’s future.
“Doing all that we can to train our young people to reach their full potential will see them learn the skills that will be the building blocks of future prosperity for the West Midlands.”
Alysia said: “I catch the bus to work and this is going to save me around £20 a month.
“I think for people like me it is a really good idea as before we didn’t get a student discount because we are working.”
Matthew said: “I get the train to work and this is going to save me around £1,000 a year.
“We are apprentices, under 18 and earning trainee wages. Travel can take up a big chunk of your pay so this scheme is going to be a massive help.”
The scheme will run on a trial basis for 12 months and underpins a pledge by the Mayor to support young people in finding employment and training.
It will be implemented by the WMCA’s transport arm, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) which will pay bus and tram companies a subsidy to contribute towards the cost of the discount.
Cllr Roger Lawrence, the WMCA’s lead member for transport, said: “The WMCA is committed to making bus travel more affordable for young people so it’s great to see this excellent scheme being launched.
“TfWM has been working hard with bus, tram and train operators to make this happen and I would urge everyone who is eligible to make the most of it over the coming year.”
All young people between 16 and 18 must now either be in full time education or undertake an apprenticeship or a traineeship.
The half price travel deal will now apply to all 105,000 West Midlands youngsters in that age bracket, 74,000 of which are in full-time education.
To get the ticket discount apprentices and trainees will be asked to prove their date of birth and that they live in the metropolitan West Midlands.
They will then be issued with a photo card that can be used to buy tickets from the child range which are half the price of adult tickets.
For more details and to apply for a card go to https://www.networkwestmidlands.com/16-18
For video of Andy Street, Alyssia and Mathew talking about the scheme go to:
Andy Street: https://youtu.be/9xn-BDT_mXM