Since it was introduced, the Kent Freedom Pass has blazed an innovative trail in home to school transport and beyond. For an annual fee of just £50, pupils in years 7 to 11 in Kent schools can buy a pass entitling them to unlimited travel on buses both to school and across evenings and weekends. The County Council has issued more than 21,ooo passes since the scheme began in June 2007, and today around 600,000 journeys are made every month using the Freedom Pass.
The benefits are numerous, not least being that since the Freedom Pass was introduced by KCC it has reduced home-to-school traffic by at least thirty percent. But the most compelling comment for me was from one pupil who said simply that they were “no longer bullied at the school gates for their bus fare”.
On Monday, KCC’s Cabinet voted to extend the scheme from the start of the new school year, so that pupils living in Kent but attending schools ‘out of county’ will also be entitled to a Freedom Pass for their journeys across the border.
Of course, many are asking for the Freedom Pass to be extended to sixth form students – but the sheer cost of this extension is financially unviable at the moment. However, with the Government’s focus on more young people staying on into sixth form education, I’d hope they might agree to fund this growth, so all Kent’s school pupils could benefit from the freedoms this pass can bring.