Call for better student discount for users of the guided busway in Huntingdonshire

Gary McAdam is calling for Stagecoach to provide student discount

Gary McAdam is calling for Stagecoach to provide student discount - Credit: Archant

College pupils from around Huntingdonshire are calling for student pricing to be available on the guided busway route to Cambridge.

Dozens of students from the area use the busway, which runs from Huntingdon and St Ives into Cambridge, to get to school and college, but face having to pay £250 a term.

Stagecoach, which operates the service, announced last month that it would be lowering the costs of a ‘termrider’ ticket from £288 to £250 a term, to ease the burden on those studying in the city.

The tickets allow anyone aged 18 or under in full time education to use the pass during term time within the ‘Cambridgeshire megarider plus’ area.

However, Gary McAdam, whose son Arran started at Cambridge Regional College (CRC) this month, said the bus company should offer a full student discount all year round, to encourage students to use the transport.

Gary said: “We were sent a letter [from CRC] to make sure that we enrolled our child on the right course. There’s a section on the letter that says a yearly bus pass would cost £495.

“When I went online to buy a bus pass for my son I realised that the college had stopped running that service from Huntingdon to Cambridge and he was instead encouraged to use the guided busway.

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“I am completely happy with my son using that system and I get that a college bus may have been stopped, however when I worked out how much it would cost, it occurred to me that it would cost over £800.

“Although the new discounted pass is a step in the right direction, I still don’t believe that it is discounted enough. The bus company and the college should be working together to try and provide a service that allows students to use the bus at a low cost.”

Harry Traherne, who is a student at Perse School and lives in St Ives, feels that the lack of student pricing will only discourage people from going into Cambridge to study.

Harry said: “The main issue that I have faced is a lack of student pricing plans with Stagecoach on its busway system. They have reduced pricing for children but as a 17-year-old who is still in full time education I find myself paying the extortionate adult fares. I think the pass is a step in the right direction but I’d argue that they still aren’t doing enough. They still won’t provide a student pricing reduction for individual or less frequent trips.”

The cost of a day rider ticket to use a bus that travels on the guided busway is £7 a day, with no student discount prices available for these tickets.

Ross Burton, commercial director for Stagecoach East, said: “The termrider really is the smarter way for students to travel. As well as a £200 saving, there’s none of the hassle of having to buy daily or weekly ticket because each ticket is valid for the whole term. It’s also a great way to spread the year’s travel costs evenly because, irrespective of the number of weeks in the term, a termrider costs the same price every term.”

A spokesman for CRC said: “We have every sympathy with Mr McAdam’s views about local transport costs, and in rural Cambridgeshire, it can be hard for some students to get public transport to various destinations including sixth forms, college and university.

“As one among many educational institutions which sees the effects of this on student finances, we have a number of initiatives which are intended to mitigate the impact and help students get to the college of their choice.

“CRC arranges buses for students who cannot access high quality education without the college’s intervention. College-provided transport costs £1million a year and to make it affordable for young people, the college subsidises student bus passes for these routes.

“We will continue to work with Cambridgeshire County Council to provide ongoing support for our students.

“We will also continue to engage with public transport providers to encourage them to provide the best possible rates for our students. For example, our students get a 50 per cent discounted season ticket on some rail passes to support them in accessing education and training and the college supports this by providing a free shuttle bus from both Huntingdon station and Cambridge North station to their nearest CRC campus.”

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