Student representatives and college leaders have welcomed government plans for a new railcard for 16- and 17-year-olds. The card, announced today and due to be launched in September, will extend half-price child rail fares to 16- and 17-year-olds.
A new 26-30 Railcard, benefitting up to 4.5 million people with a third off their travel, was also launched today. Transport secretary Chris Grayling said the new railcards would “cut fares for a generation of travellers, ensuring more young people than ever will be able to travel on our railways for less”.
“Today’s announcement of a new 16 & 17 Railcard could cut the cost of travel by hundreds of pounds a year for young people and their parents, making it cheaper to get to school, college and work,” he said.
Transport costs 'a significant barrier'
In its response to the Commons Education Select Committee’s report on apprenticeships published last month, the government pushed back on recommendations from MPs to introduce a “proper Ucas-style portal” for apprenticeships and also offer travel discounts for apprenticeships – both of which were pledges in the Conservative’s 2017 manifesto.
NUS vice president for FE Emily Chapman said travel costs "were a significant barrier to many students accessing and excelling in further education". "Reducing rail fares for 16- and 17-year olds is, therefore, a welcome step in the right direction; however, it is by no means the entire solution,” she added.
“Older students are more likely to have caring and other responsibilities but will not benefit from this scheme. This is just one gap amongst many in the current offer - a nationally coordinated effort is required to fill those gaps and provide the much-needed investment in both infrastructure and greater subsidies.”
'Good news' for students
Association of Colleges deputy chief executive Julian Gravatt said: “It’s good news that the Department for Transport is planning a 50 per cent railcard for 16- and 17-year-olds. This will benefit tens of thousands of young people every day – though not the 18-year-olds spending a third year at colleges to catch up on what they missed earlier in school.
“Today’s announcement is about rail fares but if the government wanted to make a real difference for young people from disadvantaged families it would provide support to cover bus travel. Support for all forms of post-16 transport has been cut back in recent years as a result of the end of Education Maintenance Allowances and cuts to council budgets. Social mobility generally requires actual mobility.”