UK Transport Minister, Norman Baker, has welcomed Stagecoach’s announcement today, 5th September, that it is making permanent its 50% discount on local bus services in England, Scotland and Wales for people looking for work.
At the moment, almost 20,000 journeys a month are being made under this pioneering initiative.
The company launched the UK’s first long-term nationwide initiative as a six-month pilot in February 2013, giving thousands of job seekers across the UK a 50% discount on their bus travel to help them find employment.
The scheme is funded entirely on a commercial basis by Stagecoach, without any public sector support.
Scotland the greatest beneficiary
The biggest use of the Stagecoach initiative has been in Scotland, where there are more than 3,000 trips a month; followed by the East Midlands, with around 2,700. More than 1,400 trips a month are being made by those seeking work in Wales.
Qualifying for the discount
Holders of a Jobcentreplus Travel Discount Card qualify for half-price single and return tickets on Stagecoach’s 6,500 buses in the UK outside London. Stagecoach is already part of a Transport for London scheme which offers reduced bus, tram and train travel rates for jobseekers in the capital.
More than 800,000 people who are out of work and claiming benefits currently qualify for a Jobcentreplus Travel Discount Card.
UK has 2.51 million still unemployed – with youth unemployment rising
The boost for jobseekers comes after the latest figures released by the Office of National Statistics earlier this month show that UK unemployment remained unchanged at 7.8% with 2.51 million people without a job.
However, the number of young people who were unemployed rose by 15,000 in the period for April to June 2013, compared to the previous three months. It means the unemployment rate for those aged 16-24 is 21.4%.
Bus travel is the most popular mode of transport used by Britain’s commuters, with 5.2 billion bus journeys in the UK each year.
Stagecoach has twice been independently assessed as offering the lowest fares of any major bus operator in the UK.
Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach Group Chief Executive, says: ‘Buses are crucial in connecting people with employment and that is one reason why we have always been focused on making travel affordable.
‘Youth unemployment remains a major issue for our country, with one in five 16 to 24-year-olds out of work. Tens of thousands of jobseekers have benefitted from our initiative and we hope that making the scheme permanent will help improve the chances of many more young people getting their first job or training place.’
Transport Minister Norman Baker says: ‘Buses play an important role in boosting economic growth by helping people get to job interviews and get into work.
‘This is good news and I am really pleased to see Stagecoach supporting job seekers during these tough economic times – I encourage other bus operators to do the same. Young people have a vital role to play in the future of the local bus industry and our economic recovery.’
Eligibility for JobCentre Plus Travel Discount Cards
JobCentre Plus Travel Discount Cards are available through JobCentre Plus. Those eligible include people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support and actively engaged with a Jobcentre Plus adviser in returning to employment.
Around 25% of households do not have access to a car and are completely reliant on the bus for many of their essential journeys. Buses are a major contributor to regional economies, helping connect people to jobs, leisure and the High Street as well as to education and training.
Research last year by the Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) at the University of Leeds found buses contribute £64 billion to the British economy every year. The study revealed 1 in 10 bus commuters would be forced to look for another job if they could no longer commute by bus. An estimated 400,000 people are in work or in a better job because of the availability of a bus service, according to the report
Full details of the Stagecoach jobseekers discounted travel initiative are available at the Stagecoach website here.