Free bus travel for job seekers

JOBSEEKERS in and around Carrick are to benefit from free bus bus travel in a bid to boost employment this month.

More than 800,000 jobseekers set to benefit from free bus travel in England, Scotland and Wales through free bus journeys across the country throughout January as part of a new industry initiative, Bus for Jobs.

Bus travel is the most popular mode of transport used by Britain’s commuters, with 5.2 billion bus journeys in the UK each year.

And Greener Journeys – the campaign to promote sustainable travel – has forged a deal with UK bus companies to enable jobseekers, especially the young, to use their routes free of charge for a month.

The distinctive deal – which will cover over 70 per cent of the nation’s bus routes - will give a helping hand to people who are actively hunting for work or training, and jobseekers in receipt of a JobCentre Plus Travel Discount Card who have been unemployed for between three months and one year, will be eligible.

In Scotland First, National Express and Stagecoach have agreed to support the joint initiative that will provide tangible help for people who are actively seeking work or taking part in training. For those not already in receipt of a JobCentre Plus Travel Discount Card can apply for one via Jobcentre Plus, and and full details of the scheme are available on a specially created website: www.busforus.co.uk.

Claire Haigh, Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, commented: “This scheme will help get people on the move and into work or training. Our research shows that bus travel makes a massive contribution to UK Plc; and reliable, affordable, and accessible bus routes can help to boost economic growth.

“In difficult economic times, this new scheme from Greener Journeys will provide a helpful start to the New Year, enabling job hunters to travel around more easily in search of employment, to job interviews with prospective employers, and to training courses which will help them find work.

“This scheme will give people looking for employment access to free bus travel for one month. This will help many of them secure their first job, or a place on a relevant training course.

“The number of bus travellers continues to grow in the UK, and over 5.2 billion bus journeys were taken by Britons in the past year. More people commute to work by bus than all other public transport combined and bus commuters already generate over £64 billion of economic output.”

Transport Minister Norman Baker said: “Good bus services play a huge role in boosting economic growth by helping people to access employment and training opportunities. I have been encouraging bus operators to look at the fare deals they can offer to young people looking for work, so I congratulate the operators that are doing so in January and look forward to seeing other offers in the future.

“This move will benefit the industry as well as job seekers as young people are not only a key section of the market – they are the future of the local bus industry.”

Neil Couling, Work Services Director at the Department of Work and Pensions, said: “I welcome this initiative, which will support thousands of jobseekers by removing the cost of travel. This scheme is a really positive way to start the New Year for those looking for work, and I am pleased that so many people will benefit from the scheme.”

Job seekers who have access to the scheme will be entitled to make unlimited journeys on almost any local bus service run by Arriva, First, Go-Ahead, National Express, Stagecoach, Trent Barton, Kinchbus, Blackpool Transport, Cardiff Bus, and Network Warrington where fares are under the control of the operator. However, the scheme is not valid on some routes and services operated by these companies such as most of their longer-distance coach services and airport bus services. Details of participating bus companies and routes is available at www.busforus.co.uk

Passengers will need to be eligible for and possess a valid JobCentre Plus Travel Discount Card in order to benefit from the scheme. They will need to present their JobCentre Plus Travel Discount Card to the driver, and carry it on them when making journeys on participating bus routes.

The initiative runs for the calendar month of January 2013 – Tuesday 1st January to Thursday 31st January inclusive. Greener Journeys estimate the scheme will cover over 70 per cent of all bus routes in England, Scotland and Wales.