Sixth formers in North Shields are celebrating after their long-running campaign for cheaper bus fares finally met with success. Since the end of May, all young people in the region can travel for £1, following years of campaigning by students at Thomas More Catholic High School, a member of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust.

The students launched their ‘Fair Fares’ campaign in 2018 after they learnt other 16 to 19-year-olds in the region were paying a flat rate of £1 to use Stagecoach and Go North East Network buses to go to college, while they were being charged a full adult fare by Arriva buses.

Our young people felt this price discrimination in their wallets, particularly as many were having to work part-time on the minimum wage for 16 to 18-year-olds to fund getting to college,” said Michael Thompson, chaplain at the school. “Often our sixth formers would be travelling into St Thomas More with their younger siblings to attend the same education institution, to be taught by the same teachers, in the same classrooms, and being charged a different fare.

When letter writing, a newspaper column and even a meeting with North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll failed to prompt Aviva to meet with the young campaigners, they decided to take more drastic action.

In July 2022 a group of sixth formers decided to go directly to Arriva, taking public action to get noticed,” explained Mr Thompson. “Our students dressed up in ‘professional’ adult clothes that their parents would normally wear to work, exclaiming, ‘We look ridiculous dressed like this, yet this is how you see us by charging us adult fare.’”

Their tenacity paid off and the students met with Arriva’s Commercial Director, Kim Purcell, who was sympathetic to their argument.

While this work was going on, we were also playing a key role in a consultation with Transport North East, which was looking to write a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) in advance of a bid to Central Government,” continued Mr Thompson.“In the resulting BSIP, fair fares for young people became one of the top priorities.

The changes were finally put in place in May, when Transport North East (alongside all other bus operators in the region) announced that young people under 22 in Tyne & Wear, Northumberland and Durham would now only be charged £1 for a single journey.

After years of campaigning, our dream became reality, and now young people are able to ‘get around for just £1’, opening doors for a greener future where young people see public transport as a viable alternative to other options,” added Mr Thompson.

Article prepared on behalf of Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust by Barking Dog Media. For more information email: david@barkingdogmedia.co.uk or call 07754 271086.