National Campaign for FREE bus travel for children

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Whilst children in London can travel FREE by bus, children in the rest of the UK, including many from some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country, have to pay. The consequence is that many are unable to travel, and many others jump the bus, use old tickets, and are forced into committing an offense.

Child poverty in the UK is on a sharp incline and many families are struggling to feed themselves, for many, paying the high price of bus tickets for their children is something they simply can’t afford.

Across the UK it is often cheaper for a family of four to drive their private vehicle or to use an uber service than to take the bus. Free transport for children would change this.

CityAnnual Bus Fare for under-16sChild poverty rate
LondonFree39%
Birmingham£29541%
Liverpool£23040%
Newcastle£49040%
Manchester£66040%
York£46832%
Durham City£47031%
The “freedom of movement” under capitalism comes at a cost

Free public transport for all children in the UK would allow children better access to school, work, nature, social and cultural activities. It would improve attendance rates in school and help to reduce traffic and pollution on our roads. In many cities it is so expensive for children to get to school that they simply do not attend, or otherwise schools themselves are forced to use their dwindling funds to pay bursaries for children to access transport, meaning the schools have fewer resources available to spend on books and other vital materials. Getting kids to school should be a state responsibility, and one that we see as imperative, a good school education is still the best hope poor children have of moving out of poverty by increasing their opportunities for work or further study.

In the year to March 2020, local bus fares in England have increased by 2.5%, faster than the annual all items Consumer Prices Index rate of inflation (1.5% increase), meaning bus fares have risen in real terms. Local bus fares in England increased by 77% between March 2005 and March 2020. Bus fares have risen at a faster rate in metropolitan areas (95%) than in non-metropolitan areas (74%) and London (68%).  This means that already struggling families facing increasing poverty and unemployment are now spending a greater portion of their incomes on bus travel for their children

Free bus travel

Free bus travel for children is a real green social and economic policy which, when you look at the cost is a no-brainer. Free bus travel would get more children to school, give families more money in their pockets, reduce emissions and pollution from private car travel, and allow children better access to social and cultural life. Free bus travel for children will also have the added bonus of speeding up services as children would not be required to purchase tickets, which can slow down buses quite substantially when large student groups are boarding.

In London free public transport for children is already a reality, though the Workers Party would extend the current age restrictions. Elsewhere in Britain, a myriad of strategic authorities (many set up under the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009) have far reaching powers over local transport infrastructure and regeneration.

The Better Transport Report from August 2019 recognised fare cost as a barrier for increasing uptake on bus travel and recommended either the government continue to subsidise bus transport for children or to come to an agreement with the transport sector to reduce their profit margins for the category of children’s tickets, though we know from history that corporations are not in the habit of reducing their profits for the good of the public and would therefore likely offer reduced children’s tickets by increasing adult fares to cover the cost.

In the West Midlands the combined authority established Transport for West Midlands as an executive agency with wide ranging powers and a huge budget of more than £900 million. Taking £7 million from this and adding it to the £7 million currently given for concessionary fares would mean free public transport for hundreds of thousands of working-class children. This situation is replicated across the country. The government currently funds concessionary bus travel across England to the tune of £1.06 billion in 2019/20 (the majority of which is used to fund free transport for senior pensioners), while in the same time period the bus companies posted revenues of £5.20 billion.

What can you do? Join the Campaign

Thousands have already signed up to support our campaign which was launched first in the West Midlands. Now, Workers Party branches up and down the country are looking for support to raise this demand and WIN free travel for children in all corners of Britain.

Sign up now to our campaign for a really green, really fair and really radical policy for change. The Workers Party will present regional lists of this petition to relevant authorities as part of local campaigning for free travel, and we’ll do our best to get in touch with every supporter to work with all those who want to make this proposal a reality.

Sign up now to the campaign for FREE bus travel for children; a really green, really fair and really radical policy for change. http://www.FreeTravel4Children.org