Discount card for 16 to 18-year-olds is to cease at the end of March to the dismay of CPT Cymru
The MyTravelPass young persons bus pass scheme has been abandoned by the Welsh Government after 18 months, the Western Mail reported.
The schemes, which provided discounted travel for people aged 16 to 18, will end on March 31.
At least 8,000 young people have applied for a pass, which gives them one-third off adult fares on all Welsh buses.
Promoting the scheme in 2015, First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “It is vital that our young people are able to access jobs and training opportunities in Wales more easily. We recognise that travelling costs can sometimes be a barrier, and this scheme aims to change that by making it easier and cheaper for 16 to 18-year-olds to travel around Wales.
“It underlines our commitment to supporting our young people into work and education opportunities.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “At the time that MyTravelPass was announced, it was confirmed that the Welsh Government’s funding for the pilot scheme was only ever for the period to March 31, 2017.
“The Welsh Government has undertaken an initial analysis of the MyTravelPass scheme. This seems to suggest that passholders are not using their passes to travel outside their immediate areas.”
He said the Government had asked councils and bus companies to suggest affordable ways of providing discounted travel in future.
In October, the Government disclosed that 8,000 young people had applied for the pass – only 7% of the people who were eligible.
Professor Stuart Cole from the University of South Wales said take-up was surprisingly low, but did not think the pass had been given long enough to become established.
“That age group, where products have got to be peer reviewed, is probably not the easiest market to get into,” he said.
“If the Government’s objective was to maximise the usage and they’re taking it off because they’re saying it wasn’t popular, that’s a mistake because it does take time for a product to be accepted and seen as cool.”
Transport consultant John Davies said the scheme was bureaucratic, with youngsters having to apply for a pass. Bus companies such as First Cymru, which previously offered their own discounts to this age group, required youngsters only to show proof of age to the bus driver.
CPT Cymru is urging the government not to withdraw the 16-18 pass and suggests eligibility should extend to adults in their early 20s.
CPT Cymru Chairman and First Cymru MD, Justin Davies, said: “At the moment our concentration is on trying to get the Welsh Government to keep a national scheme going because clearly it should have value – if only it was well marketed and managed which it certainly has not been.
“The unemployment rate in the age group 18 to 24 is 9% above national unemployment rates. That really should be addressed, and transport is one of the solutions.”
If the government scheme ends, Justin said his own company would provide some form of help for youngsters aged 16 and over. This would not include other companies’ buses in South-west Wales, and he stated that CPT Cymru would fight for a properly funded and marketed national scheme.