As schools reopen to all pupils, Kent County Council is providing compensation to families who bought a KCC Travel Saver Card or 16+ Travel Saver Card but may not have needed to use it during the national lockdown in January and February.
Parents who paid in full for a KCC Travel Saver Card will receive a compensation payment of £100, or £30 if they were eligible for a reduced cost pass. Parents who paid for a 16+Travel Saver will receive a compensation payment of £115.
KCC will now start making these compensation payments and hope to complete this work by the end of April.
KCC suspended direct debit payments during January and February for customers who opted to pay by monthly instalments, representing a saving of between £90 and £120 for a full cost Travel Saver card and between £27 and £36 for a reduced cost pass.
Customers who paid for a 16+ Travel Saver card by direct debit will have saved between £100 and £133.
Each scheme offers different payment options and price points depending on family circumstances, which means compensation levels will vary slightly from customer to customer. No further refund will be made to customers who paid by instalment and March payments will be taken as planned.
While there is no duty on KCC to provide support to pupils who do not meet the criteria for free school transport, around £10 million of subsidies are allocated each year to the Travel Saver and 16+ Travel Saver scheme. Each scheme provides Kent families with an average saving of around 50% of the normal cost of annual bus fares.
In addition to reimbursing more than 20,000 students who did not get the full benefit of their travel saver card, KCC has also committed to pay the participating transport companies during this difficult period to make sure transport options remain available after the pandemic is over.
KCC’s Head of Public Transport, Phil Lightowler, said: “I am pleased to be able to announce this package of compensation, which means every customer gets a fair saving equivalent to the amount of time they’ve not been able to make use of their pass.”
“Under normal circumstances it is not possible to make refunds during the school year because the scheme is subsidised.
“But because the national lockdown meant that so many students were not able to get the full benefit of their pass this year, we felt that it was right to offer this package of compensation that we think fairly reflects this loss of use and that we can sensibly deliver.
“We intend to make payments to the customers who paid upfront between now and the end of April. We would ask families to be patient while we make these payments and to only contact us if they haven’t received their compensation by the end of April.”
“Throughout the past year, we have also made sure that local transport providers continued to receive support from us, as this industry has been heavily affected by COVID and we will continue to rely on them to get children to school when things return to normal.”
The KCC Travel Saver Card and KCC 16+ Travel Saver Card have remained valid for travel all year, so pupils can continue to use them as normal.
For information about using buses during the pandemic, please click here.