GMPTE 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?