Free bus rides for jobseekers to tackle unemployment rate in East Yorkshire
JOBSEEKERS in East Yorkshire will benefit from a new scheme providing free bus travel.
The national scheme, launched by sustainable travel group Greener Journeys, will benefit more than 800,000 unemployed people.
They will be granted free bus journeys in January as part of a new industry initiative, Bus for Jobs.
Both Stagecoach and East Yorkshire Motor Services (EYMS) are taking part in the scheme.
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Chairman of EYMS Peter Shipp said: "This scheme should not cost us too much and we are keen to get involved in something that encourages more people to use buses.
"We are one of just a few independent bus companies involved.
"Unemployment is a big issue in Hull and getting to interviews and places of work is a problem.
"If we can help in any small way, then it has to be good.
"If more people use the buses then, when they do find work, they may carry on using them."
Greener Journeys has forged a deal with the UK's leading bus companies to enable jobseekers, especially the young, to use their routes free of charge for a month.
Bus travel is the most popular mode of transport used by Britain's commuters, with 5.2 billion bus journeys taking place in the UK each year.
The scheme will provide free travel in January for those who have been unemployed for between three months and one year.
Adam Fowler, of the Hull and Humber Environment Forum, has welcomed the scheme.
He said: "There is a good bus network in Hull and the East Riding and a higher percentage of people use buses here than nationally.
"Both Hull and East Riding councils are very aware of the barriers to unemployment. This will make the job hunt just that little bit easier.
"Public transport can be a key issue for those seeking work. This scheme has to be welcomed.
"Unlike some areas, people can get almost anywhere in Hull and the surrounding area by bus so it could benefit a lot of people."
It is not clear exactly how many people in the region will benefit but Hull has some of the highest rates of unemployment in the country. There are 8.3 per cent of the population claiming jobseekers' allowance in Hull. This is more than double the national average of 3.8 per cent.
Claire Haigh, chief executive of Greener Journeys, said: "This scheme will help get people on the move and into work or training opportunities.
"In difficult economic times, this new scheme will provide a helpful start to the new year, enabling job hunters to travel around more easily in search of employment, to job interviews with prospective employers, and to training courses which will help them find work."
Transport Minister Norman Baker said: "Good bus services play a huge role in boosting economic growth as they help people to access employment and training.
"This move will benefit the industry as well as job seekers as young people are not only a key section of the market, they are also the future of the local bus industry."
• Are you eligible? Who the Bus for Jobs scheme will help