Child fares on Tyne and Wear’s local transport will remain low for the next two years, after the Integrated Transport Authority today confirmed funding for the concessionary payment scheme.

ITA chairman Cllr David Wood today confirmed the Child Concessionary Travel scheme, which saves families up to £300 a year on the cost of travel, will survive until at least 2015.

The scheme caps travel at 60p for single tickets and £1.10 for all-day travel across all public transport up to the age of 16 – among the lowest fares for children outside London.

Through the scheme the ITA funds Nexus to subsidise child journeys on private bus companies as well as Metro – with operators being reimbursed the difference between the capped fare price and the commercial child fare they would otherwise charge.  These payments amount to more than £4 million each year.

Cllr Wood said: “Keeping child fares low is really important to hard-pressed families, so I am pleased we have been able to protect it at a time of huge pressure on public spending.  Our scheme saves families up to £300 for every child who goes to school by public transport.”

“While we have been able to preserve these low fares for children until 2015 that shouldn’t hide the fact there is huge pressure on the funding we receive from local councils in Tyne and Wear. While we have worked hard with councils to protect local passengers from cuts until now we face some hard choices in future.”

Child concessionary fares are entirely voluntary schemes paid for by transport authorities with funding from local councils.  This is unlike the statutory national concessionary fares scheme for older people and disabled passengers, for which funding is provided by Government.

The child concessionary fare scheme is open to all children and young people resident in Tyne and Wear up until the end of the school year in which they turn 16.  They must apply for an Under-16 Pop smartcard to get the cheaper fare.

Fares are capped at 60p single and £1.10 for the Child Allday Ticket (commonly known as the Cat) and apply on all local public transport including bus, Metro, Shields Ferry and Northern train services between Sunderland, Newcastle, Metrocentre and Blaydon.

Different operators charge their own fares for travel by children who do not have the Under-16 Pop smartcard, including those not resident in Tyne and Wear.

On Metro this is 70p single and £1.20 all day.  On bus companies this varies from around 85p single to £1.35 single at ‘peak’ school times with all-day variants costing from £2.30.

Children under five years of age travel free on all public transport with an accompanying adult.