Campaign for FREE bus travel for children in the West Midlands

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The Birmingham Worker is campaigning for FREE bus travel for all children in our region. Click above to sign the petition and when we have 5,000 we’ll take it to Transport for West Midlands. For more information about the campaign see the information below. If you would like to get involved with the campaign and be kept updated please fill in the following form:

Whats the campaign about?

Whilst children in London can travel FREE by bus, all children in the West Midlands, 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 offence.

London – FREE travel
Children in London from 5-10 years of age travel FREE by bus, tube, tram and rail
Children in London from 11-15 years of age travel FREE by bus and tram
Children in London from 16-17 years of age travel FREE by bus and tram
West Midlands – £1.20 – £99.90 a term
Children in the West Midlands pay £9 for a one week travelcard.
Children in the West Midlands pay £32.75 for a four week travelcard.
Children in the West Midlands pay £99.90 for a term travelcard.

Our Demands

In the West Midlands, taking the bus accounts for 80 per cent of all public transport journeys. We demand that Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), and their parent organisation the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) fund FREE travel for all children up to the age of 18 on bus services throughout the West Midlands.

How it works

TfWM subsidises fares in our area for the elderly and disabled and they fund the half-price children’s fare on buses. TfWM pay the bus companies (principally NX Buses) £7.2 million a year for half price fares for children. TfWM should fund free travel for children in the same way that children in London are subsidised.

We demand that TfWM implement free travel for children on our bus network.

We offer two suggestions for consideration, in the full knowledge that where there’s a will, there’s a way:

1. Seek and obtain extra funding from central government (£7.2 million)
2. Extract a concession from National Express West Midlands buses

National Express West Midlands Buses

Over 78% of all bus journeys made in the West Midlands are on National Express buses and they get paid the full price of the children’s fare as they charge the child half and take the other half from TfWM. This swindle helps their shareholders enjoy annual operating profits of about £30million and this amount is growing, as passenger numbers increased by 1.1% last year. Effectively meaning the public are subsidising the profit-making activities of National Express buses. In a society based on reason, and not the blind pursuit of profit, the public would run the bus service and any surplus money utilised to provide a greener, safer and more efficient service, as well as fund free travel for children.

Benefits

Currently NX Buses checks more than 3 million tickets a year on 150,000 buses. NX Buses say that 2% of tickets are invalid, that’s 60,000 invalid tickets. NX Buses cannot say what proportion of those caught with invalid tickets are children, but its clear that there are many thousands. This operation involves thousands of checks, hundreds of inspectors with police support, at huge cost to the public. Free travel for children would be well worth the additional £7.2 million, would contribute greatly to the economy, the cultural and social welfare of young travellers and tackle anti-social behaviour.

Poverty in Birmingham

100,000 children in our city live in poverty according to the Children’s Society. That’s a higher percentage than any other British city, except Manchester. In a study conducted by the Children’s Society they found that a total of 37 per cent of Birmingham’s children live in poverty whilst in inner-city areas, the percentage was higher – 47 per cent. It is especially troubling as Birmingham is a young city with almost half its 1.1 million residents aged under 30.

To add to the burden of the extortionate cost of travel, Birmingham’s parents earn less with one in five workers in Birmingham earning less than the Living Wage of £8.25 per hour.

The bus companies in Birmingham have a virtual monopoly on public transport. Free travel on buses will provide Birmingham’s children access to education, work, cultural and social opportunities, as well as alleviating some of the excessive burden upon Birmingham’s working parents. Additionally, such a measure will help to reduce the emissions from cars on the roads, daily put to use transporting children to all manner of things because it is cheaper than using public transport.

NB

The figures here are based upon work carried out by the Childrens Society. Further info is available on their website http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/

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