Opinion: Together, we can save free bus Travel for London’s Youth
Isra Sulevani and Maryam Malik
With high Poverty rates and low progression into higher education, scrapping free bus and tram travel for under 18s will only worsen the life chances of Hillingdon’s youth. Together, we can force the government to change their minds.
Inside London, 32% children are currently in poverty. Now facing a recession on the scale of the Great Depression, this will only worsen. It is estimated that families will have to pay a minimum of £60 extra per month per child just for them to attend school.
It is on top of this that the government plan to suspend the Zipcard scheme, which gives free travel for under-18s, after 28 October 2020.
This poor decision by the government has been made without consulting young people or assessing the detrimental impact this will have on them and their families.
Partnership for Young London has conducted a survey with 2000 16-18 year olds assessing the impact of the suspension of free transport for under 18s in London and found over 95% of those surveyed were against the suspension of free travel and that, for many, it is a lifeline to them and their families.
With COVID-19 already negatively affecting all aspects of life, it is as important as ever for the government to be working in the best interest of its people. If nothing is done to reverse their decision, families living below the poverty line will be expected to pay for their travel, further contributing to the financial difficulties families are facing in these unprecedented times.
After speaking to young people and professionals across London and listening to their stories, Members of the Youth Parliament fully understand the dire consequences of scrapping free travel for under-18s.It feels as if young people are being forced under the poverty line.
Unfortunately, Hillingdon is an area with high poverty rates and low progression rates into higher education. If people couldn’t get to or had issues with getting to school or work before, scrapping free travel will only compound their problems.
As Members of the Youth Parliament, we have a duty to advocate on behalf of all young people whatever their background or social status. Consequently, we have devised a campaign working alongside partners across our City, including the Child Poverty Action Group and the Children First Alliance, to support young people and express our concerns to the government.
We are encouraging people to join us in our campaign. Please write to your MP with your concerns and use the Hashtags #TransportForYouth and #DontZapTheZip on social media to show your support.
Together, we can get the Government to retain free travel for Young People in London.