Lib Dems deny mulling free bus passes for children in England

Nick Clegg The free travel plan would cost hundreds of millions of pounds, the Telegraph said

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A senior Lib Dem has denied reports that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was "very keen" to introduce free bus travel for all under-16s in England.

Transport minister Norman Baker said claims in the Daily Telegraph that the Lib Dems were developing the idea were "simply not true".

On the BBC News Channel, he said ministers were exploring other ways to cut transport costs for young people.

"This is an interesting idea," a senior Lib Dem source had told the BBC.

"But it's far too early to say whether it can be delivered," the source added.

According to the Telegraph, the aim was to reduce the risk of children being involved in road accidents and curb the number of cars on the road, bringing environmental benefits.

Mr Baker said: "We're certainly interested as a government in trying to help young people who are facing significant challenges with their transport costs, particularly on buses, and that's certainly something that Nick [Clegg] is interested in.

"But we've had no discussions at all, Nick and me or anyone else as far as I know, about the idea of giving free travel to under-16s. That's simply not true."

Mr Baker had previously told Parliament he was working with the bus companies to try to narrow the disparity between the costs of bus travel for children in different parts of the country.

Under-16s and under-18s in full-time education in London have been able to travel on buses without paying for almost 10 years, while some children in other parts of the country benefit from means-tested schemes.

Oversight of transport policy is devolved in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    In London where children get free transport, bus drivers have real problems with kids messing around - hopping on and off buses , noisy and abusive etc. They ( children ) treat the drivers and other passengers with total disrespect. Free school transport fine, free at all times NO !

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Much better to provide free school transport - less bureaucracy, probably more cost effective than free travel for all under-16s at all times. It would also free up existing buses for those who need them to commute to work without the school term overcrowding.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    If they can afford to do this then why not just provide free school buses? That way the companies can still afford to run the services and keep people employed. The public don't have buses full of school kids. More jobs will be created for school bus drivers and fares will not have to rise. Alternatively stop sending billions overseas and we can all travel free.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    The problem with giving free bus travel to children (like in London) is that it acts as a massive disincentive to walk and cycle.

    The vast majority of journeys could easily be made on foot or by bike. I would say that it would be better to focus on providing safe routes for children to walk / cycle along, which adults can use too. Will improve children's fitness and reduce illness/absences.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I am not against this proposal but:

    As an unemployed but ticket-buying member of the public I can barely get a seat on most of the buses round my way because they are full of over-65's using their free travel to get out & about!

    On the other hand, why don't we have a comprehensive system of free public transport for everyone, funded out of taxation - thus enjoying a massive economy of scale?


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