Wednesday 08-06-2016 - 11:38
Today the House of Lords will have the second reading of the Bus Services Bill.
The Bus Services Bill was first announced in 2015 within the Queen’s Speech and published a few weeks ago. The government’s stated intention is to “improve bus services and increase passenger numbers” by creating new partnerships throughout the sector and awarding local authorities greater decision making powers.
This year NUS has been campaigning for affordable bus services for students as part of the #CutTheCosts Fairer Fares campaign and the #FEunplugged campaign. Too often travel costs, along with the plethora of other factors that contribute to the unacceptable levels of debt they face, hold students back from accessing education.
This Bill, with the Government’s stated intention to improve and increase services, presents a valuable opportunity to improve local travel for students. In our briefing for members of the House of Lords, NUS will urge the Government to ensure the bill improves services and increases access for students too. In our submission we will highlight that:
- In research carried out by NUS with further education students in November 2015 we found that over half (51 per cent) of students say that cannot always afford their travel costs, 17% of FE students currently receive support from their college to pay for transport costs and one third of FE students already spend between one and two hours just getting to college.
- In addition, 49% said local transport wasn’t regular enough, 60% said it was overcrowded and 73% said it was often delayed.
- With Area Reviews aiming to create ‘fewer, more resilient colleges’ , we can expect students in FE are going to have to travel further for longer if they want to study the course that’s right for them. We can safely assume that, without the right transport infrastructure in place, some students are not going to be able to get to a college. (To find out more about how area reviews could affect FE provision in your area, check out the #FEunplugged campaigns hub).
- NUS’ Pound in Your Pocket research found that 45 per cent of students with weekly travel costs between £10 and £19.99 had seriously considered leaving their course, compared to 30 per cent of students with no travel costs.
- In addition, those living in less built up areas were much more likely to have higher travel costs, with almost half paying more than £20 per week, and on average paying £7 per week more than those living in urban areas. Over the course of a year, these differences could add more than £250 to a student’s annual travel costs.
- Recent NUS research on apprentice travel showed that across the UK apprentices are paying an average of £24 per week in travel costs. This means that an apprentice on the apprentice national minimum wage of £3.30 p/h would need to start work at 9am on Monday, work all day and then again on Tuesday until 10:00am just to earn enough to pay for their weekly commute.
NUS believes that students and young people should never be held back from further study, training or job opportunities by poor travel options. We will continue to urge the Government to ensure the Bus Services Bill provides an opportunity for students to be included in local conversations about how to make bus provision work for them.
To find out more about how NUS has been campaigning for better transport options for students, take a look at the #CutTheCosts campaign hub.