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 102.

    Free PT is a nice idea but check the costs. Railway passenger revenues were £7.46bn in 2011/12 and costs £7.18bn with £0.02bn in subsidies. The buses generated just over £3bn in the same period with a much larger subsidy. The government borrowed £116.5bn last fiscal and free public transport would increase this by nearly 10%. Simply unrealistic. Any proposal needs costing as a reality check.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    93.E Doyle "I know where public money should be spent. Do you?"

    With your self declared talent and foresight, It's surprising that you have not been swept into Number 10 on a sea of popular acclaim?
    Or is it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    I accept the idea of free bus travel for children to and from school, but there should be reduced price travel at other times. I remember Ken Livingstone saying that London children would use free bus travel to visit museums, but I see quite a few children using buses late at night. It also seems that children banned from using buses can still get on by saying, "I've forgotten my pass.''

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    94.carlsborg expert

    All very well new improved diesel engines with particulate filters but 95% of diesels on UKs roads do NOT meet these standards.

    I have one of these new cleaner diesel engine cars & I am disappointed with the devious claims of emissions & economy which manufacturers state based upon unrealistic tests

    Manufacturers stated urban 59 MPG

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    Should we not consider subsidised (ie. not free) travel for youngsters and pensioners? Such a scheme could link the subsidy level to the amount of usage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    As someone who has frequently been harassed by youngsters on public transport, I do not want to se anything put in place that will encourage bored kids to spend their time on buses making things unpleasant for adult travellers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    I drive a car it costs a bomb, I use a train it costs a bomb, I use the Bus it costs a bomb, I have a family, we are not all that well off, yet we live in rural Britain, the place that city folk get there food from, Trains are 25+ miles away, we have a twice a day bus service, this free bus pass for the kids sounds like a great idea for fat and lazy city folk that can't bothered to walk anywhere.

  • Comment number 95.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    @84.spam spam spam spam
    "...Passing a bus has always been free, plus you get a free mouthful of diesel particles.."

    To be honest I'm fed up with people criticising diesel engines. These days diesel engines have particulate filters and in terms of fuel economy and real world acceleration, they outperform most petrol cars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Free bus passes or outrageous severance payments to BBC execs? I know where public money should be spent. Do you?

  • 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 91.

    Expect we'll see many more U-turns from the Lib_Dems and Labour during the *summer recess*.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Nick Clegg always wants to help the "family" and "parents" and "children".

    Does he not recognise the power of the single person's vote, for their are millions of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    What about "free" bus passes for people who work and pay tax, or what about no free passes or reductions for anyone, just cut the fares for everybody!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    What utter rubbish ! Kids think they are below the povery line if they haven't got the latest trainers. Come with me to Dhaka and I will show you what real poverty looks like."

    Give it a rest, chum! This HYS is about free travel for children IN THE UK. If you want to bleat about Dhaka wait until there is a relevant HYS.

    I am sick of comparisons between UK and 3rd-world nations

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    In the 1960's there was a child's half fare for under 16's. It meant I could afford to go swimming and make other journeys too far to walk or cycle but it also meant I had to forego something else. The idea of something for nothing breeds the entitlement society and is bad news.
    (Also of note that public transport was safer in the 1960's, as revelations show the paedophiles were elsewhere.)

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    Nick who?

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    I seem to remember Nick Clegg being keen on other things in the past. So keen he actually made pledges. We all know how that turned out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    I have lost count of the times that I have either driven past a bus or walked past a bus, and have never been charged for it, since when have they charged to pass a bus. Passing a bus has always been free, plus you get a free mouthful of diesel particles
    What more do you want!

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    I understand Clegg's aims, but...
    1. In some areas there are no buses or they are infrequent.
    2. It will lead to rowdiness and trouble as gangs of kids are unruly so the bus companies will need conductors, the driver can't be distracted.
    3. Paedophiles will frequent the buses?
    4. Why only up to 16? By 2015 school leaving age will be 18.
    5. By 2015 the Liberals will be booted out of No10.


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