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Student bus pass guide

If you’re full of good intentions to walk to your 9am lectures but always end up getting the bus, have you thought about investing in a student bus pass? Here are some of the best deals…

Buses aren’t always the quickest, cheapest or, heck, even comfiest means of getting about — town  but they’re green, economical and don’t leave you dependent on taxis or mates with motors.

Most university cities have local bus operators offering student passes and, depending on where you live, there could be massive savings to be had.

If you’re not sure whether you need one, where to get one or, dammit, where you parked the car, read on for tips and tricks to riding the road on the cheap.

Do you need a student bus pass?

If you do the same bus journey every day — and bus it on nights out and other short trips — then you’ll most likely be better off with a pass.

Arm yourself with at least a hazy notion of how much your typical weekly travel costs are now so you’ve got something to compare to later in this guide.

Points worth considering:

How much is a student bus pass?

Buying an annual bus pass may be a mighty initial tug on the purse strings, but it does come with the greatest potential for savings and most flexibility for travelling when you want.

If you fork out the cash up front, you don’t have to worry about it again for a whole year, and won’t be stuck without a ride when times are lean (it could be worth allocating the cost from your first loan or grant payments).

In Manchester, an annual (academic year) Stagecoach student bus pass will set you back £250 (bringing your average fare down to 83p a day); in Liverpool it costs £285 (94p a day). However, don’t forget you’ll still be paying that average fare on days when you don’t even take the bus.

You can get annual bus passes that last for exactly 12 months, but an academic year pass will likely be the most cost effective option if you’re not sticking around in uni over the summer.

Alternatively, term passes (usually running from Sept-Dec and Jan-April/June) are a great deal that mean you won’t be paying for travel over the holidays.

Find out if your uni runs its own bus service, as they may have their own discount or pass schemes. Otherwise, bear in mind that there may be more than one student bus operator in the area – stack-up what each offers to see where you can get the best deal and service.

And don’t assume you’re priced out of the pass you want: scope out the zone boundaries – you may just need to change route slightly or pick-up from a different bus stop.

You may need to provide student ID to get your pass, and might even have to show it every time you travel. Operators all have different policies on replacing lost or stolen passes, or refunding you if you want to cash-in early: find out before you get stung.

Popular student bus passes

Now you’re sure you need a student bus pass, it’s time to work out where to get it!

Different private bus operators cover different regions and cities, and routes within them. They don’t all offer discount student passes, but the big ones that cover the UK mainland are listed below.

In Northern Ireland you can check out operators such as Translink, who do a yLink card (1/3 off bus and rail journeys).

As well as our list, you can get more info about local passes from your uni or SU Welfare office, freshers’ fairs, and tourist or travel information offices.

Stagecoach student bus pass

stagecoach student passStagecoach operate services in many university cities across England and have a strong presence in Scotland. Their student bus pass, the unirider, is one of the best-value passes for students out there.

The cost varies from city-to-city (related to variations in single ticket prices) and you can book and buy online. Click here for current prices.