Thousands to be given half price bus and tram travel

It is hoped to get the scheme up and running in the next few weeks

More than 30,000 apprentices will get half price bus and tram travel to help them stay in training and work.

Being among the lowest paid members of the workforce it is thought that the cost of public transport leads to some dropping out before completing their training.

So West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, and his cabinet, have struck a deal which will put more money in the pockets of the 31,000 young people currently in on the job training. It will be run as a 12 month pilot scheme initially and extended if successful.

Currently only those between 16 and 18 and in full-time education qualify for a 50 per cent discount - but that will now be extended to the growing number of apprentices. Mayor Street said:

“Young apprentices and trainees are often some of the lowest paid employees so being charged the full fare to travel can take a huge chunk out of their wages. It may also be a contributing factor in why some drop out before completing their apprenticeships and that is a shame.

"Not only does that hurt their own future, it also hurts the future prosperity of our region because it’s critical our young people are equipped with the skills needed to fill the jobs being created here.

“We hope this scheme will make it easier to them to continue on their chosen career path.”

The scheme will be run by Transport for West Midlands which will cover the cost of the discount for the region's tram and bus companies. Talks are under way with train companies to extend the scheme to rail services within the region. Cllr George Duggins, WMCA lead for skills and productivity and leader of Coventry City Council, added:

“Young apprentices and trainees often receive only the minimum wage of £3.50 an hour and around a quarter of them fail to complete their schemes.

“There are many reasons for them dropping out but we believe the cost of getting to work each day should not be one of them.”

To get the ticket discount apprentices and trainees will be asked to prove their date of birth and that they live in the metropolitan West Midlands. They will then be issued with a photo card that can be used to buy tickets from the child range which are half the price of adult tickets.

It is hoped to get the scheme up and running in the next few weeks.

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