A new discount card introduced to make travel cheaper for young people in South Yorkshire leads to ‘astronomical’ price hikes for some passengers.
The TravelMaster 18-21 Discount Card, which was launched on September 1, gives holders 15 per cent off weekly and monthly passes for buses, trains and trams.
TravelMaster, which is co-owned by the region’s public transport operators, claims the card will simplify the pricing structure and make travel cheaper for many young people.
But some passengers using the existing South Yorkshire-wide SYConnect and SYConnect+ passes for 18 to 25-year-olds, which are being withdrawn on September 30, could end up paying much more.
A weekly SYConnect18 ticket, giving unlimited travel on buses and trams across South Yorkshire, currently costs £11.30.
The same ticket will now cost £19.50 with the discount – an increase of more than 70 per cent.
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James Loring said his 18-year-old daughter Katy, who lives in Rotherham and works at a print works in the town but often gets the bus to Sheffield in the evening or at weekends, would be among those feeling the pinch.
“It’s an astronomical price increase, especially for someone who's just started work. It’s the equivalent of two hours’ pay for an apprentice who has to travel from Rotherham to Sheffield.
“I’m surprised this has been allowed to sneak through so easily. I think a lot of people haven’t realised what's happening yet and it will come as a big shock to them.f
“If you put petrol prices up by that much, people would be up in arms.”
While the old discount was only available for region-wide passes, the new card will make travel cheaper for young people wishing to travel solely within one of the four districts
The cost of a weekly CityWide bus and tram pass for Sheffield, for example, would be slashed from £15.80 to £13.40 for 18 to 21-year-olds.
Matt Smallwood, general manager at TravelMaster, said: “Our new 18-21 Discount Card means we now provide a far larger number of customers with a much more flexible and accessible discount against all our products instead of against only a small range of countywide tickets that were only relevant to a limited number of customers.
“I am aware that small minority of those customers may now need to pay more for their travel and this is unfortunately the result of the artificially low prices of our legacy youth products that we can no longer commercially offer.
“Following this change, however, a far larger number of customers will be able to enjoy a discount against all of our already great value products.”
TravelMaster said the number of customers affected by price rises as a result of the change accounted for less than 0.5 per cent of those buying its passes each month.
For more information on the changes, visit: sytravelmaster.com/18-21-support.