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Unemployed To Get Free Bus Rides To Find Jobs

(c) Sky News 2012

Bus companies have come together to offer free travel to the unemployed as part of a Government-backed scheme to help people find work.

Some 800,000 people across Britain who have been without a job for between three months to a year will be eligible to claim for a card, giving them free bus rides in January.

The JobCentre Plus Travel Discount Card already entitles them to half-price journeys.

Arriva (Dusseldorf: 380653.DU - news) , First (OTC BB: FSTC.OB - news) , Go-Ahead, National Express and Stagecoach are among the operators signed up to the deal, which covers 70% of routes in England, Wales and Scotland.

Transport (Euronext: IXSTP.NX - news) minister Norman Baker said: "Good bus services play a huge role in boosting economic growth by helping people to access employment and training opportunities.

"I have been encouraging bus operators to look at the fare deals they can offer to young people looking for work, so I congratulate the operators that are doing so in January and look forward to seeing other offers in the future."

The initiative was co-ordinated by Greener Journeys, a campaign group involving leading bus companies and supporters including Transport for London and the RAC Foundation.

Chief executive Claire Haigh said: "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."

The latest official unemployment figures are released on Wednesday this week.