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Ipswich: Bus firm counts cost of eXplore card's demise

PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 March 2011

Star news...words Hazel Byford

Just the ticket for the Star Lifesaver appeal with Malcolm Robson, (left) managing director Ipswich Buses and Andrew Guttridge assistant director passenger transport for Suffolk County Council with the Ipswich shuttle bus.

Picture Owen Hines
ES 9 12 06

Star news...words Hazel Byford Just the ticket for the Star Lifesaver appeal with Malcolm Robson, (left) managing director Ipswich Buses and Andrew Guttridge assistant director passenger transport for Suffolk County Council with the Ipswich shuttle bus. Picture Owen Hines ES 9 12 06

The controversial decision to abolish the eXplore card for young travellers is set to cost the town's bus operator £300,000 a year.

It means Ipswich Buses will charge higher fares for youngsters – although they will still be able to claim a discount up to their 19th birthday if they show an identity card.

And bosses at the bus company are advising youngsters who already hold an eXplore card not to throw them away after April 1 – they will still be recognised as a proof-of-age card until their expiry date.

Anyone without an eXplore card will have to buy one of Ipswich Buses’ own identity cards for a one-off payment of £2.

Ipswich Buses managing director Malcolm Robson said he was sorry to see the end of the eXplore card.

“It’s been very good at attracting new business,” he said.

“The number of young people using the buses increased substantially and it has given them a lot more independence in getting around the town.

“There are still cheaper fares for them, but they will be charged a bit more because we have to try to make up some of the £300,000 we will be losing.” At present the eXplore card single fare is 70p. Youngsters will now have to buy a young person’s fare of £1 for single journeys.

The cost of multi-trip and season tickets are also set to increase.

The eXplore card is being scrapped to save the county council £1.7million. Along with the saving on Ipswich Buses’ services, it has also offered cheap fares with other bus operators and on train services within the county.

To get cheaper rail journeys, youngsters will now have to buy a Young Person’s Railcard which costs £26, but which is valid on rail journeys anywhere in Britain.

A campaign has been set up to protest at the scrapping of the eXplore card and to try to get it debated again by the county council.

An online petition has been created on the county council website – follow the “council and democracy” link on the homepage.

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