Free Bus Travel (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
September 18, 2002
Question By: 
John Biggs
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

I haven't attended a meeting with young people where free bus travel, and possibly free travel on the Tube for under-18s, hasn't proved popular. I think it's popular, because many young people, particularly in education, have very limited incomes. There is a lot of evidence that people are forced out of education by their low incomes.

On the one hand, I'm delighted you might be copying Labour policy. The problem we have is that you have been all over the place on this. You started this year saying it was totally unaffordable, when you then attended a meeting with me you announced that you were thinking of making it free for young Londoners and, last week, you said that it might be half price travel.

I think Londoners need a bit of certainty on this, rather than off-the-cuff statements. When are you going to make a decision on this and when will Londoners know whether they're going to get concessionary rates for young people?

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Free Bus Travel (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for Free Bus Travel (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Currently, work is taking place in TfL to see how such a scheme would work. The decision would be one that would feed into the budget process, so would come in in TfL's next financial year. There's a whole range of issues here. Clearly, a huge shift of young people on to the buses at exactly the time the congestion charge comes in - and we're hoping that drivers are going to switch to the buses - could be counter-productive. I'm also though, very keen on the position that Stephen Twigg took, to encourage Londoners to stay in education by extending that free travel to 18. So my long-term objective is that, as with pensioners, people under 18 should travel free on public transport. It's clearly not going to be possible to pay for that in the coming financial year. But I intend to get there by stages and I suspect the first stage would be extending half price travel to under-18s or looking at free travel on the buses, which is much cheaper than free travel across buses, tubes and trains. So, I've not yet made up my mind on this and am interested to see what the advice of the Assembly would be because there will be a substantial cost implication in this.