Since its launch in November 2022, the subsidised travel scheme set up between the University of St Andrews and the bus company Stagecoach has reportedly saved students and staff over half a million pounds. Set up as part of a series of University initiatives to help members of its community during the cost of living crisis, this 75 per cent discount on weekly and monthly bus tickets across St Andrews, North-East Fife, and East Scotland has been used by an average of 1,500 students and staff per month, saving those not eligible for free bus travel under the National Entitlement Card scheme £501,351 between the launch of the initiative and the end of August.
The scheme not only stretches household budgets, but also is aligned with the sustainability objectives established by the University Strategy, including the goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2035. In tandem with various other pushes for more sustainable travel options, including BikePool and Wee Walk Once a Week, the scheme has sought to reduce pollution and the number of cars within the town of St Andrews. According to the University website, this partnership has led to the University’s carbon footprint already being reduced by 448 tonnes of CO2e — the equivalent of 2,231 return flights from Edinburgh to London — from what it otherwise would have been while also decreasing staff and students’ personal carbon footprints for each journey by 37 per cent.
In response to this success, the university’s Chief Operating Officer Derek Watson said, “[T]he university places social responsibility at the heart of all it does and it’s right that we should do all we can to support our staff, students and their families through the cost-of-living crisis. The substantial investment we have made in this scheme, working with Stagecoach, has had a hugely positive impact financially and helped us make significant strides towards our ambitious net-zero targets.
“To say we have saved staff and students over half a million pounds is a huge milestone and I’m pleased colleagues and students see the massive value of getting on board with this scheme. I hope more people will see the benefits not only in terms of saving money but also in helping the environment.”
The scheme has been scheduled for reappraisal this October to assess uptake. However, not least because it has been shortlisted by the UK Bus Awards, it is likely that this model will be continued here and could potentially expand to other businesses and institutions as practical support in financially difficult times.
Illustration: Lauren McAndrew