Bath and NES Green Party levelling up West of England train travel with its Fair Fares initiative helping students weather the cost-of-living squeeze

The future is looking bright for environmentally-minded workers of tomorrow with the announcement of the Green Futures Fund by West of England Mayor Dan Norris (2 February 2022) and the progress made by Bath and NES Green Party Councillor Joanna Wright with her Fair Fares initiative. 

WECA’s Green Futures Fund is to offer three cash injections of up to £15,000 for West of England schools to create ‘green careers programmes’ for students interested in pursuing jobs related to improving the environment and lowering carbon emissions. 

With the rising cost of living and inflation at its highest point for thirty years, Cllr Wright is hopeful that her Fair Fares initiative will assist those future green careerists to be able to afford to reach their places of education and acquire the skills to succeed in their chosen fields. 

Cllr Wright says: “For some years I have been aware of the discrimination in age for those who are 18 and over and are in full-time education. This group of people has to pay full adult rail fares and do not get a discount when travelling in peak periods to education or training.” 

Working alongside the existing GWR Scholar Scheme (offering a 34% discount against season tickets for 16 to 18-year-olds) and the Student Railcard (offering discounts only outside of peak times), Fair Fares will ensure that 18 to 25-year-olds in education in the WECA region will pay a child’s fare on all of their journeys.

During meetings with GWR and WECA to progress Fairer Fares, Cllr Wright has also asked for the relatively little-known Scholars Scheme to receive greater visibility. 

Cllr Wright says: “Using trains to get to school or college is necessary for many young people in full-time education. Additionally, travelling by train is one of the best travel options for the environment and we need more young people to know that travelling by train is affordable and a great way to get to education. I welcome the effort of the Metro Mayor and his team in making this ticket option more widely known about.”  

Besides helping to level up the playing field for students from lower-income backgrounds, Cllr Wright is hopeful that the Fair Fares scheme will help instil positive public transport behaviour. Studies have shown that embedded transport behaviour is learned.  

More positive experiences with trains, buses, and other means of public transport for the younger generation will ultimately contribute to fewer private vehicles on the road and a less polluting, more sustainable West of England culture of travel.

The next meeting between Cllr Wright, WECA, and GWR concerning Fair Fares is scheduled for the end of April. 

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