Apprentices and trainees aged 18 or under are to get half price travel on the region’s bus and tram network as part of an initiative to help them stay on the career ladder.
The deal, which was given the green light today (Friday Sept 8) 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.
Only those aged between 16 and 18 and in full-time education are eligible for half price travel at present but this will now be extended to those on apprenticeships or traineeships who currently have to pay the full adult fare.
The scheme 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.
It is also hoped to have an agreement in place to extend the half price scheme to local train services by the time the scheme goes live in a few weeks’ time.
The deal, which will run on a trial basis for 12 months, underpins a pledge by Mayor for the West Midlands Andy Street to support young people in their efforts to gain employment and training.
The Mayor said: “Young apprentices and trainees are often some of the lowest paid employees so being charged the full fare to travel can take a huge chunk out of their wages.
“It may also be a contributing factor in why some drop out before completing their apprenticeships and that is a shame.
“Not only does that hurt their own future, it also hurts the future prosperity of our region because it’s critical our young people are equipped with the skills needed to fill the jobs being created here.
“We hope this scheme will make it easier to them to continue on their chosen career path.”
The law requires all young people between 16 and 18 to either be in full time education or undertake an apprenticeship or a traineeship, so 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.
Cllr Roger Lawrence, WMCA lead on transport and leader of City of Wolverhampton Council said: “The WMCA has been committed to making bus travel more affordable for young people because we recognise the positive impact that can have on young lives.
“Our transport arm – TfWM - has been working hard with bus, tram and train operators to make this happen and it’s great news for young people. We hope they will now take full advantage of this scheme over the coming year.”
Cllr George Duggins, WMCA lead for skills and productivity and leader of Coventry City Council, added: “Young apprentices and trainees often receive only the minimum wage of £3.50 an hour and around a quarter of them fail to complete their schemes.
“There are many reasons for them dropping out but we believe the cost of getting to work each day should not be one of them.
“We hope giving them half price travel will reduce some of the barriers to completing an apprenticeship or traineeship and also make it easier for them to simply get out and about to meet friends and family and pursue their goals in life.”
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.
Full details of how young people can apply for the half price fares will be made available closer to when the scheme is launched.