Bus firms to help job-hunt young with cheaper fares

The UK’s leading bus operators have announced a discounted travel scheme to help unemployed young people, in the wake of a transport study by the University of Leeds

Operators Go-Ahead, FirstGroup, Stagecoach, Arriva and National Express will offer concessions to 16 to 24-year-olds needing to access work, education or training.

The report, Buses and Economic Growth, found that more people commute by bus than all other forms of public transport combined, and the bus industry helps generate more than £64bn of economic output every year.

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Author Professor Peter Mackie, of the University of Leeds, said: “The report demonstrates that buses have a key role to play in growing the economy.

“The bus is a familiar part of everyday urban life. It receives a fraction of the attention given to rail and car, yet despite being taken for granted it is a vital cog in the wider economy bringing access to jobs and training, facilitating retail spend, and supporting the vitality of our towns and city centres.”

The study, commissioned by Greener Journeys, a campaign dedicated to encouraging people to make sustainable transport choices, also revealed that more than 50 per cent of 16 to 19-year-olds are frequent bus users and depend on the bus to get to their education or training, while 10 per cent of bus commuters would be forced to look for another job if they could no longer commute by bus.

It found that more than five billion bus journeys are made in the UK each year – at least one billion of those bus journeys are made to work - and people use the bus to make shopping and leisure trips with an annual value of £27.2bn, of which £21.5bn is spent in towns or cities centres.

Claire Haigh, chief executive of Greener Journeys, said: “This report shows the value of the bus in generating sustainable economic growth.

“Buses play a crucial role in oiling the wheels of the economy as well as reducing carbon emissions, helping maintain the fabric of our communities and providing essential transport for the 25 per cent of households without access to a car.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, in the period February-April 2012, 1.01 million young people aged 16-24 were unemployed, down 29,000 on the previous quarter and up 118,400 - 13 per cent - on the same quarter in 2011.

Sir Brian Souter, chief executive of Stagecoach Group, said: “For many young people, the bus is the only form of affordable transport available to them and they depend on it to get to their education or training. The discounted travel scheme could make the vital difference between a life of worklessness and getting a job, helping more young people to make a better start in life.

“That shows just how important the bus is to the future of our country.”