Hartlepool school bus fares hike prompts big response

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A DECISION by councillors to more than double the cost of concessionary school bus travel provoked a strong response from readers.

From September 2017 a seat on Hartlepool Borough Council dedicated school bus services will increase from 79p a day now to £1.97. The rise is to be introduced in stages starting next September as the council aims to recoup the full average cost of a seat.

Readers were quick to tell us what they thought about the decision with dozens of comments posted on the Mail’s website and Facebook page. Many suggested children should walk to school instead of relying on buses and cars. But many other people said the increase was trying to make more money at families’ expense.

Website user Krombi said: “Feet are cheaper, and no doubt healthier. I too walked to school as a lad, about the same distance as well.

“I suspect, though, that some schools are much further away from some homes than 1.6 miles nowadays. Traffic was a lot lighter then, and the general atmosphere of the town always felt safer.”

Another reader by the name of b4ngt1dy agreed saying: “Only fair to expect you to cough up when your kids want bussing around all day, don’t expect everyone else to subsidise it for you lot.”

The council provides concessionary bus seats on its dedicated school service, once all pupils entitled to free transport have been accommodated. An internal audit report last December recommended concessionary seat fees should be reviewed to ensure that the cost of the seat is fully recovered.

The average fare for a child under 16 on public buses is £1.50 for a return journey.

Helen Adams said on the Mail’s Facebook: “My I just envisage more children on bikes more accidents shocking.”

Leslie Ingledew said: “Well done to the council for lining their back pockets with loads of cash and not thinking about child safety.”

But James Thorpe, who lives outside the town, said: “We pay £2.50 and we consider that cheap. You have no idea how lucky you are.”

Tim Squires said also posted: “I get bus passes every week for 3 children , I don’t get subsidized. I don’t get free school meals either for the two kids I have at manor college or the two we have at Jesmond Gardens !!!! It all adds up yet I don’t expect it for free and yes its a struggle !!”