On the 10th February 2022 at the Kent County Council (KCC) budget meeting the Conservative administration voted to increase the cost of Kent Travel Saver (KTS) bus pass by 21% taking the cost from £370 a year to £450.
The Kent Travel Saver provides around 14,000 pass holders, who in the main are, secondary school students aged from 11 to 16, discounted travel on buses from 6am to 7pm on weekdays as a key method of getting to their place of education.
However, since this decision was made by the Conservative Administration at KCC during their budget meeting there have been efforts to challenge this decision given the current Conservative cost of living crisis including a petition against this rise by a local parent attracting over 7,000 signatures.
This Decision to implement to price hike has now been formally taken by the Conservative Administration at KCC and has therefore made this eligible to be called into the Scrutiny Committee of KCC which takes place today at 2pm at County Hall. Labour County Councillor for Canterbury City South Mel Dawkins has called this in as Kent Labour feel it is not in line with the current policy framework of the Council.
This price hike contradicts KCC’s own decisions and policy including the climate change commitment the Kent and Medway Lower Emissions Strategy (KMLES) as well as in the Kent Environment Strategy (KES).and policy to mobilise modal shift towards sustainable transport, active travel and behaviour change and encourage more residents on to buses and other forms of public transport.
The decision by the Conservative Administration to increase the cost of KTS is going to have a financial impact on families who are already struggling with the price and therefore many will need to find other means to get to school. This increase just sends the wrong message to our families and community with bus prices in Kent are already high and without the pass, can make it financially impossible to use this mode of transport daily.
The Conservative Administration says that Kent Travel Saver passes are only discretionary anyhow and because of budget constraints had no other option than to increase. But in reality this is a political choice and the Kent Labour Group, proposed an alternative budget, that found a way to freeze the cost but the Conservative Administration at KCC chose to vote it down and put further pressure on hard working families.
County Councillor Mel Dawkins says, “Kent County Council need to live up to their climate change commitment and its implementation to aim for a modal shift towards more sustainable transport and bus usage. The Kent Travel Saver rise is a step in the wrong direction, contradicts KCC’s own policy framework and leaves our families footing the bill.”