New passes for 11–16 travel – but visitors to be denied discounts?

igo under 16 SmartcardGMPTE has launched a new concessionary travel pass for 11–16 year olds named “igo” – a smartcard that conforms to the Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation (ITSO) specification but will initially be used as a photo card in similar fashion to the English National Concession Travel Pass currently in use for senior citizens.

Although the card is not currently mandatory, it will become so from 16th May 2011. From this date, the 80p child bus fare (and associated Metrolink child fares) will only be offered to 11–16 year olds on display of a valid igo pass. The igo pass will cost a fee of £5 and will be issued as valid until 31st August following the holder’s 16th birthday. GMPTE also hopes that anti-social behaviour on public transport will be reduced due to the threat of confiscation of passes for those who are naughty – definitions of which include: offensive language, littering, dangerous behaviour, playing music out loud, smoking, harassing other passengers, damaging vehicles, and committing criminal acts.

It might be expected to make bus drivers’ lives easier as they will no longer have to use their discretion as to whether a child is under 16. However, because they are compulsory yet are only available to residents of Greater Manchester or those who go to schools in Greater Manchester, this means that the discounted child fares on buses and trams will no longer be available to 11–16 year olds who are visiting Greater Manchester. Consider a teenager from Knutsford who is visiting the Trafford Centre: they can get half-price travel on the train to Altrincham or Manchester but then have to pay “higher fares”* on the tram and bus. We’d expect there to be some grumbling in such situations. And surely it will still be up to bus drivers to decide whether a child is aged under 11 or not?

* We’re not quite sure what these “higher fares” mean, whether it’s the full adult fare or a half price fare offered by bus operators as opposed to the flat fare of 80p. Please get in touch if you can help clarify!

This unfortunate situation is avoided with the offer of free bus and tram travel for under 16s in London, whereby you can still register for a discounted Oyster card even if you live outside the area – although at twice the price of an igo pass. The igo pass also compares unfavourably with the English National Concession Travel Pass for senior citizens – is it fair that teenagers don’t get the same go-anywhere benefit that the elderly do? Here’s some questions we’ve got:

  • Will concessionary travel still be available without an igo pass if the child is travelling with an adult?
  • Will other proof of age documentation be acceptable for journeys that cross in/out of the county boundary?
  • Will an igo pass be accepted as proof of age in other areas?
  • Will an igo pass be required to buy bus operator specific child day tickets?
  • What are the “higher fares” that will be charged to 11–16 year olds without an igo pass?
  • Why isn’t an igo pass required for concessionary rail travel within Greater Manchester?
  • Will the unmanned Metrolink ticket machines have appropriate warnings for those 11–16 year olds who do not have an igo pass?
  • Will child rail/tram through ticketing and child PlusBus tickets only be valid with an igo pass?
  • Is there a case for some form of national 11–16 concessionary travel pass scheme in order to avoid some of the niggles raised above?

About James McCollom

Web geek and public transport user
This entry was posted in Buses, Politics, Technology, Trams and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to New passes for 11–16 travel – but visitors to be denied discounts?

  1. Josie says:

    I had a correspondence with Stagecoach about seven or eight years ago in which they said that, although their driver should have accepted my non-GMPTE proof of age card (and they refunded the fare difference in postage stamps!), I should also be aware that GMPTE was looking to restrict the child fare only to those with GMPTE passes “in the near future”. Wasn’t it to do with that Readycard thing? Whatever happened to that?

  2. Eddie says:

    The issue has been over 16s ( 17 18 19 even 20 ) demanding concessionary fares off bus drivers who aren’t there to police the revenue hence the GMPTE have to deal with this by ensuring legit UNDER 16s carry permits so the OVER 16s cannot ” piggyback” off the existing scheme ( statistically about 1in 1000 under 16s in GM actually has the current, advisory under 16 card ). On the Met rolink , those same people buy child tickets , again they are not entitled to concessions as they are OVER 16…….thats if they actually buy any ticket, but thats another story !..

    • James McCollom says:

      I’ve no problem with the mandatory nature of the scheme – just the fact that it will penalise youngsters who don’t live (or go to school) in Greater Manchester. The scheme in London still allows visitors to claim the same benefits, why not this one?

  3. M Branson says:

    This scheme will be very unfair on lots of kids who live and go to school in areas just outside of Greater Manchester, but would often travel into Greater Manchester.

    Though they have rightfully included “special rules” for the Glossop, Poynton, Edgworth, Belmont and Rossendale areas, it doesn’t say what these special rules are (for all we know, U-16 residents of these areas may have no access to the scheme either, unless someone else knows better and can tell us what these rules are).

    And for kids in all other areas just outside Greater Manchester, who would often travel to places in Greater Manchester, like the Trafford Centre as the correspondent points out? They will have no access to the scheme and will be denied travel at the concessionary fare, even though they may have another form of under-16 ID. Hey presto, the Parent-mobile just got a bit more attractive!

    The other bit I am concerned about is the rule regarding journeys that cross the boundary. How the hell are they going to work that out? If the journey is half inside of GM, will the kid pay 40p for the GM half and the adult/half fare for the other half, or will the kid have to come back to the front at the boundary and pay the other fare, or what? I imagine, for simplicity, a lot of drivers/companies will waive this insane rule.

    I think they need to think this out again!

    • James McCollom says:

      I agree with much of what you say, but journeys tha start or finish outside the county border already have special* fares rather than the 80p flat fare – normally around half price of the adult fare for the same journey. Not much changing on that front, other than will the ugo pass be mandatory in such cases or not?

      * Though in most other parts of the country, this is the standard rather than being a special case.

  4. Pingback: igo for half price as flat concessionary fares withdrawn | Manchester Transport

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