1. ITV Report

Report questions 'value for money' of Welsh Government's discounted bus travel for young people

A new report has called into question the "value for money" of the Welsh Government's discount bus travel scheme for young people.

The Auditor General for Wales says "obvious questions" have been raised about £14.74 million spent on the 'My Travel Pass' scheme. The pass offers a third off the price of bus journeys for 16 to 18 year olds in Wales.

But the scheme cost the Welsh Government significantly less than was expected based on the first year and a half of operation.

But less than 10% of eligible young people applied for passes by March 2017.

The Welsh Government say the £14.74 million spent also helped to secure additional benefits, including helping to "stabilise the bus network".

Commenting on the report, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Nick Ramsay, said the report "highlights issues with the quality of the analysis and advice underpinning decisions about the scheme".

Estimates made by the Welsh Government assumed that 80% of 16 to 18 year olds (around 90,000 people) would take up passes and use them on average twice a week.

But less than 10% of eligible young people applied for passes by March 2017 – the end of the initial pilot phase.

While the scheme costs are now much lower, it is also clear that the scheme has not attracted the level of interest from young people that was first envisaged.

This suggests that there are important lessons to learn for the marketing of the scheme as it is extended to cover 19 to 21 year olds.

The Committee will be considering the Auditor General’s report in due course and may choose to take further evidence on its findings.

– Nick Ramsay AM, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee

Responding to the Auditor General, a Welsh Government spokesperson said they welcomed the report and "are keen to learn lessons from its findings".

The report recognises the pre-announcement of the scheme’s funding before negotiations had taken place with the bus industry restricted officials opportunities to influence reimbursement of the bus industry for their voluntary participation during the initial pilot phase.

MyTravelPass has driven an estimated 1.344m discounted journeys in 2017-18, encouraging more young people to use the bus for more journeys, reducing road congestion and improving air quality.

We continue to work closely with the bus industry and our local authority partners and provide direct investment to help build a sustainable bus network, and a socially-responsible, greener and prosperous Wales.

– Welsh Government Spokesperson