Trial of free bus travel for school children in Cardiff

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A review has been launched into whether free transport to and from school could be provided in Cardiff, The Western Mail has reported.

It is one of six options being considered as an alternative way the council could provide home to school transport. Currently, the local authority spends £2.5m a year transporting 5,200 youngsters through 85 private coach contracts.

Cllr Ralph Cook, cabinet member for transport, said the contracts with coach firms were unaffordable. As well as a cost-saving, Cllr Cook hopes free bus travel will encourage the city’s youngsters to continue to use public transport once they leave school.

“If we were creating a culture of public transport use through taking kids to school I could see a significant benefit, but we are not doing that,” he said.

“I spoke to children and they all said they do not use buses but are perfectly happy to use coaches.

“But if you grow up using public transport all the time, whether it’s cool or not does not become a part of it, it’s just how you get around.”

Talks will also be held with operators such as Cardiff Bus to see if they would be prepared to transport schoolchildren before and after school at reduced fares.

Peter Heath, of Cardiff Bus, said: “From our point of view it’s a sensible move where there is duplication between a school coach and the local bus network.”

The council recently stopped £52,000 in funding for two discretionary services. The LA will look at whether it can afford to pay for those affected to travel for free on existing local bus services.