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Jobseekers urged to apply for FREE travel card giving 50% off train and bus fares

If you're on jobseekers allowance or are job hunting and claiming Universal Credit, you may be entitled to a 50% discount on train and bus travel to help you get back into work under a little discount known scheme.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train firms, is urging people to take advantage of the 'Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card' as recent figures published by the body show that over 62% of journeys using the card are taken in London and the South East - meaning "hundreds of thousands" of people could be missing out. 

Prior to the pandemic, over 1.1 million journeys were made using the card. However, the RDG says that number dropped to 722,900 between March 2020 and October 2021. It comes as employment stats published by the Office for National Statistics this week reveal that job vacancies have hit a record of high of 1.17 million. 

You aren't, however, guaranteed to get the railcard just because you're on jobseeker's allowance or job hunting and claiming Universal Credit – Jobcentres issue them on a case-by-case basis. We've full help below on how the scheme works and what you need to do to apply.

For more help on how to cut the cost of rail travel, see our Cheap Train Tickets guide. If you've been made redundant or are out of work, see our Redundancy Help guide.

What does the railcard offer?

All train operators in England, Scotland and Wales offer those with the 'Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card' a 50% discount on anytime day tickets, off-peak day tickets and season tickets, for up to three months.

The card also gets half-price single and return tickets on Stagecoach’s 6,500 buses across England, Scotland and Wales, excluding London.

Transport for London also accepts the card on all of its services including buses, trams, the DLR, the Tube and the Overground network. If you use it with an Oyster card you can get:

  • 50% off pay-as-you-go fares.
  • Seven-day, monthly or longer period (up to three months) travelcards at a child's rate.
  • Seven-day or monthly bus and tram passes at a child's rate.

While the railcard is valid for up to three months, the exact length is at the discretion of the Jobcentre you apply to. Once it has expired, repeat applications can be made.

How can I apply?

The process for getting a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card is as follows:

  • Step 1. You need to have been claiming jobseeker's allowance or job hunting and claiming Universal Credit for at least three months. Your age helps determine the exact length of time you need to have claimed for:

    • If you're aged 18-24-years-old - you can get the card if you've been receiving the required benefits for between three and nine months.
    • If you're aged 25 or older - you can get the card if you've been receiving the required benefits for between three months and a year.
    You might also be able to apply if you've been claiming certain other benefits, such as incapacity benefit, income support or employment and support allowance, for at least three months and are actively looking for work via a Jobcentre.
  • Step 2. You then need to apply to the Jobcentre and explain why you need the card. If you meet the criteria outlined above, you can apply in person at your nearest Jobcentre Plus. However, crucially you're NOT guaranteed to get a card when you do this, even if you do meet the criteria above.

    The Department for Work and Pensions says the cards are awarded on a case-by-case basis, so to get one you need to speak to Jobcentre staff about your circumstances and they will decide whether you should be issued with a card, and if so, how long for.

    One reason why you might be refused a card is if transport by rail isn't as easy or accessible in your area as it is in other areas.

If you are refused a card, unfortunately there's no way for you to appeal against the decision.


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