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Ogbourne family hits out at bus pass rules
Mum Yvonne Parsons has criticised the bus pass system saying many students would find it cheaper to pay ordinary return fares.
Mrs Parsons, from Ogbourne St Andrew, also says Wiltshire Council’s bus pass rules mean students can use one or other of two services to Swindon but not both, as in the past.
Stagecoach and Wilts and Dorset Bus Company operate rival services with an alternate hourly service to and from Swindon where scores of Marlborough teenagers attend college courses either at New College or North Star.
Mrs Parsons’ son Aaron has just finished a two-year art and design course at North Star, where brother Rhys goes in September to study accountancy. She paid £51 a month for her older son’s bus pass.
Now she has discovered that because Aaron’s course was on only three days a week, she could have saved £144 a year by letting him buy an ordinary return ticket every day.
Mrs Parsons said: “They can only use their bus passes to go to college – they can’t use them to go to Swindon for any other purpose or at weekends.
“Aaron has been doing only two and a half days a week and we have been paying £51 a month for his bus pass.
“Now I have found out that it would have cost us only £39.60 a month in return fares instead of the £51 for his bus pass, so we were paying an extra £12 a month or £144 a year.
“Wiltshire Council are taking £51 a month off families without making them aware that if students go to college for less than five days every week, it’s cheaper for them to buy a return ticket every day.”
Mrs Parsons is also annoyed that under bus pass rules, students have to choose whether to use the Wilts and Dorset X5 or the Stagecoach 70 service, where in the past their passes allowed them to use either.
Depending on the time college courses finish, she said, and the half hour on foot it takes to get from North Star to the bus station, they could find they had missed their bus and could have to wait up to two hours.
Mrs Parsons said: “Rhys is starting in September and we won’t know what his hours will be on Fridays, yet Wiltshire Council has sent out a letter saying we have until August 17 to decide which bus service to use – it is ridiculous.”
A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “Students had to have separate passes for these buses last year as well because they are now commercial services and the companies, not Wiltshire Council, decided not to have joint passes.”