Following the Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee on 24 April 2014, the Cabinet Member took the decision to agree the proposal. Reports can be found below in the 'Summary of Results' section. Click here for the minutes of the meeting.




KCC is grateful for all the responses to this consultation.  The results are now being analysed in preparation for a final decision in the coming weeks.


KCC is committed to providing fair and sustainable access to the bus network for young people.  More than any other authority, KCC provides the most generous travel for young people not entitled to free home to school transport.  Residents of Kent were made aware in the Budget Consultation in November 2013 that KCC faces a gap in funding that approaches £300million over the next three years.  This is the result of increasing costs to provide services and less money from central government.

In light of the difficult financial challenge, KCC has to review its transport provision.  The current Kent Freedom pass is a generous discretionary scheme that costs KCC £13.5 million and is likely to grow more expensive if demand increases at predicted rates. 

In December 2013, the Highways Cabinet Committee endorsed a proposal to consider replacing the existing Freedom Pass scheme and the 16+ service with a new scheme that would place a cap on the subsidy by providing a pre-loaded Smartcard to service users.  This option received significant media coverage and prompted many residents and schools to contact KCC to give their views.

Since December 2013 analysis by Highways has continued, discussions were held with various stakeholders and other options considered such as the Smartcard system as well as amending the current system to various degrees around price and usage restrictions.  This further evaluation indicated that the original proposal as reported in the media was not the most appropriate and work was undertaken to develop a more acceptable system, the details of which are laid out below in the ‘Proposal’ section.

The proposed system for use by under-16s would still represent excellent value for money while allowing KCC to bring its budget under control.

Due to the significant impact any decision around this will have on a range of people who travel in Kent, it is vital that KCC seeks to understand the views of service users.  This will allow them to take an informed decision and respond appropriately to questions about the proposal.



The proposal is to alter the scheme to provide unlimited weekday travel between 06:00 & 19:00 for 11-16 year olds at a cost of £200.  While this will remove the provision of weekend leisure travel, it represents excellent value for school travel for families who have children attending selective or distant educational venues.  This has been a key consideration for KCC in developing a suitable system to meet the needs of Kent students and their families.  It is acknowledged that any increase in price may have a detrimental effect on those who rely on the Freedom Pass but the proposed scheme would allow KCC to maintain a concessionary transport scheme for young people that would still be the most generous of its kind outside London.


As now, a charge will not be made for Young Carers and Looked After Children and those receiving Free School Meals will only be charged half the new price.  This is intended to ensure the scheme continues to be accessible to those on lower incomes and to avoid any unintentional discrimination.  Additionally for 11 - 16 year olds, to minimise the immediate financial impact, it is proposed that user may split the cost – £100 twice in the academic year.


11 – 16 year olds:  £200 cost for unlimited travel between 06:00 –   19:00, Monday to Friday, 1st September to 31st July.  (£100 increase) 

16+ Scheme Amendment:  £400 cost for unlimited year round travel to allow access to college, apprenticeships, weekend educational activities and work placements.  (£120 reduction)

It is proposed to implement the new scheme in September 2014 to coincide with the new academic year.  A review will take place after 6 months to assess how the new scheme is operating.


This consultation seeks to understand the impact the proposal will have on those that use the service.



To respond, please complete the online questionnaire. (No longer active - consultation closed)

For accessible formats, please contact the Contact Centre.


This consultation has now closed.


  • Opened
    24 Feb 2014 at 12:00
  • Closed
    24 Mar 2014 at 17:00
  • Response Published
    17 Apr 2015

Summary of Results



Consulting Organisation Type Kent County Council
Consulting Organisation Name Kent County Council
District / Borough areas affected by the consultation Ashford, Canterbury, Dartford, Dover, Gravesham, Maidstone, Medway, Sevenoaks, Shepway, Swale, Thanet, Tonbridge & Malling, Tunbridge Wells
Consultation Topic Traffic, transport and roads
Consultation Methods Online survey / questionnaire / forms
Contact Details

Kent County Council

County Hall


Kent ME14 1XQ

county.hall @kent.gov.uk

24 hour helpline: 0300 333 5540

Text Relay: 18001 0300 333 5540