More young people could be allowed lower price bus travel, as councillors say they will look into extending the Hertfordshire Savercard scheme.

Currently Savercards – which cut the cost of a bus ticket by half – are available to students aged 11 to 18, who live in Hertfordshire and are in full-time education.

But Hertfordshire County Council is now going to look at ways to extend the scheme to include students who are 19.

And they will also investigate whether the scheme could include apprentices, regardless of their age.

However the Savercard expansion will depend on bus operators agreeing to the plans, without any additional reimbursement.

  The move was backed today (Friday) by members of the County Council’s Environment,  Planning and Transport Cabinet Panel. And officers will now start to negotiate the extension to the scheme with bus operators.

The County Council’s Passenger Transport Manager Matt Lale told councillors the recommendation was for officers to negotiate on the expansion of the Savercard scheme to include 19 year olds within the existing budget.

And he said there was an incentive for the bus operators because it offered the opportunity to get more people to use buses.

Cabinet Panel member Asif Khan, Labour councillor for  North Watford, backed the plan.

He said: “I’m all in favour of getting young people out of mum’s and dad’s cars and onto buses. Anything we can do in terms of policy to encourage young people to get on the buses in fantastic.

“Apprentices – who do start at 16 and 17 – are not treated as students but employees and it gets muddy in terms of their transport advantages. If it’s possible to expand to apprentices I would be in favour of that.”

Unlike the rail industry there is no legal obligation for bus operators to have a discounted ‘child fare’ scheme.

But the County Council has operated a concessionary scheme for children and students since 1986 and introduced the Savercard in 2005.

The scheme aims to offer more affordable travel to children and young people and to promote bus travel across the county.

The reduced fares are thought to generate additional trips, which in turn – it is said – helps to sustain the local bus network.

Last year (2016/17) more than 12,000 students purchased one of the £20 Savercards, which cost £15 if purchased online.

The scheme costs the County Council £1.672million and, says the report to the Cabinet Panel, the expansion of the scheme would have to be achieved within the current budget.

Therefore bus operators would have to agree to the expansion of the scheme based  on current reimbursement levels.

If agreement between the County Council and the bus operators cannot be reached it would not be possible to expand the scheme.