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School bus price hike for Brighton and Hove parents
Parents are being asked to pay an extra £8 a week to foot the bill for a subsidised school bus.
Hundreds of people protested after Brighton and Hove City Council threatened to withdraw the money for two dedicated routes for youngsters earlier this year.
However, after reinstating the 74 and 96 service for the 2012/13 school year, the local authority has introduced a new charge for a ticket which can only be used on these routes.
This means they will have to pay extra so their children can get home after attending after-school activities.
Greg Bradley, of Norwich Drive, Brighton, said his 12-year-old son used the 74 from their home to Patcham High School but often had to get the non-subsidised 75 when it was full.
He said: “My concerns are that this has only been announced in the past few days with most of us only finding out when our kids went back to school.
“To be honest I would rather run him down there in my car to get him there safely than pay for two tickets.”
Paul Whitmore, of Auckland Drive, Brighton, said: “I do not think it is fair at all. The council do not seem to think children getting to and from school is one of their priorities.
“We have already paid our money for the year and now my child can only get one bus in the morning.”
Previously the charge for the 74 and the 96, which starts in Patcham and serves Blatchington Mill and Hove Park schools, was included as part of the student saver ticket.
This meant a child could get an annual bus pass for £250 and use any bus in the city.
However, in order to pay for the school bus, the local authority has introduced the new fee, which comes to £240 a year, and can only be used on that specific route.
Council leader Jason Kitcat said: “There has been a Government cut to the funding which has led to a reduction in the city bus service.”
He added: “We said earlier this year we would run them in a different way and we did. It’s not a last minute thing.”
But Labour councillor Gill Mitchell said: “It smacks of privatisation rather than the usual public subsidy.”
Sue Shanks, chairman of the council’s children and young people committee, said: “It’s slightly more expensive but it’s the only way we could keep it running.
“Some parents may choose to buy an annual bus pass but they can also get an ID card which will give them reduced fares on all city buses.”
A council spokeswoman said: “Brighton and Hove Bus Company do exercise discretion when students are clearly travelling to and from school.”
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