Free bus travel for under 16s is an unaffordable luxury

Under 16's will travel free on buses from September this year Mayor Ken Livingstone announced this morning, but the plan was labeled an ‘unaffordable luxury’ by Conservatives on the London Assembly. The scheme will cost £50million – the equivalent of 5% of total bus fare revenue. It does not extend to the Tube. However, from September 2006 Under 18's will also ride free on buses.

The Mayor’s decision clashes with Transport Commissioner Bob Kiley’s views. Asked at an Assembly Plenary on April 6 about free bus travel for Under 18's he said: “Freebies are not one of my favourite subjects because our organization is heavily dependent on fare income for being able to do what it does.”

Conservative transport spokesman and Chairman of the London Assembly Transport Committee, Roger Evans said:

"At a time when passengers are enduring 20% increases in bus fares, this scheme is a unaffordable luxury. I am sure we would all like our transport system to be free but that simply isn't realistic.

"While the vast majority of young people behave responsibly, large groups of youngsters travelling on buses can sometimes be intimidating to other passengers. This potential negative side-effect must be monitored carefully."



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