Yobs put cheap bus tickets for children at risk

Photo Neil Cross'Thomas Calderbank of Preston Bus which has been hit by a spate of vandalism
Photo Neil Cross'Thomas Calderbank of Preston Bus which has been hit by a spate of vandalism
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Children could have their cheap bus tickets taken away this summer after a spate of vandalism and anti-social behaviour on the city’s buses.

Preston Bus is considering abolishing the £1.20 day ticket offer for children aged five to 15 after it was abused during the Easter holidays.

Photo Neil Cross'Thomas Calderbank of Preston Bus which has been hit by a spate of vandalism

Photo Neil Cross'Thomas Calderbank of Preston Bus which has been hit by a spate of vandalism

The firm says that 40 bus windows have been smashed since the start of the year, and 19 incidents of anti-social behaviour happened over the two-week Easter holiday.

Spokesman Thomas Calderbank said: “We’re not sure if we will offer the special ticket this summer because of the vandalism and trouble caused by kids getting on the buses.”

It means getting around the city this summer could be tricky for some children.

But the company says if it does get rid of school holiday offer, there will only be a small minority of children to blame.

Aiming to give Preston’s five to 15-year-olds more freedom, Preston Bus put on a £1.20 day ticket for the Easter holidays earlier this year.

But smashed windows, graffiti and anti-social behaviour meant company bosses have been forced into a re-think.

Spokesman for Preston Bus, Thomas Calderbank, said: “There was quite a bit of anti-social behaviour and damage to the buses so we’re not sure whether we will offer the tickets this summer.

“In the case of smashed windows this can take a bus out of action for at least a day and costs thousands of pounds.

“It happens all over Preston and we don’t have other buses to cover it so it affects all other routes and makes us unreliable. There was a lot of general nuisance behaviour too which had a big impact on other passengers.

“The tickets were made to make travel affordable and give kids some freedom, but we haven’t decided if we will offer them this summer.”

The Child Summer Saver offered a day of unlimited travel for children aged five to 15 - who would normally pay £1.20 for a single journey.

John Quinn, Preston Police’s community beat manager, said the force has been working closely with Preston Bus to eradicate the problem.

“It’s definitely a big issue,” he said. “We’ve identified key areas where rocks and debris are being thrown at vehicles.

“We’ve deployed undercover CCTV to obtain evidence and have caught some of the groups of youths causing the damage.

“We appreciate it’s not always easy but giving us as much information about the incident means we can catch the culprits sooner rather than later.”

Preston Bus says it will make a final decision on whether it will offer the special tickets in the next month. It says it will give parents plenty of notice before the summer holidays, which start at the end of July.

Mum of five Sarah Fraser lives in Fulwood with her children aged eight to 17.

“It is a really good option for families to have,” said Sarah, who works at a funeral directors. For parents to be able to say ‘here’s £1.20’ and know their children can get around is a great facility but I can see where Preston Bus is coming from.

“I have been on buses and been intimidated by children doing this type of thing and it’s very difficult to police. Hopefully they can find a way to keep the ticket and stop the children who are causing the trouble.”

The chief executive of the Foxton Centre, which offers youth clubs for children in Preston, says he knows how important these kind of schemes can be. Jeff Marsh said: “If you’re a family with a low income then this is definitely something you could be using. It’s a good way of having a family day out or a cheap way of allowing the children to play out but I understand where Preston Bus is coming from.”