Labour is announcing a new policy to fund free bus travel for those under the age of twenty-five across the country.
The next Labour government will provide funds for free travel for under 25s to local authorities who introduce bus franchising or move to public ownership of their local bus services. This will support and incentivise local authorities to create municipally owned bus companies, run for passengers not profit, which research has found could achieve annual savings of £276 million per year.
The move could benefit up to 13 million young people, help them save up to £1,000 a year, based on the average cost of a UK bus journey of £1.94, and will be paid for using money ring-fenced from Vehicle Excise Duty.
On top of this direct saving, the move will radically reduce the long-term environmental impact of car journeys, as studies have shown that a person who starts driving in their mid-twenties will drive one third less for the rest of their lives than someone who starts younger.
Greater use of public transport reduces congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions. Free bus travel for under 25s will help generate lifelong increases in public transport use.
Launching the policy during a visit to a sixth form in Derby on Thursday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to say:
Young people deserve a break. Nearly eight years of Tory austerity have hit their incomes, their chance to buy a house and their career opportunities. Labour wants to help young people make the most out of life by investing in them, which is why today we are pledging the next Labour government will provide the funds to cover free bus travel for under 25s, to support them to travel to work, to study and to visit friends.
Our policy provides help where it is most needed. On average, children, young people and households with children each have less disposable income than working age households without children. Young people also tend to be in lower paid, more insecure work, and they spend a higher proportion of their income on travel. Giving them free bus travel will make a huge difference to their lives.
Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald will add:
Buses are vital for easing road congestion and air pollution, but for too long, private bus companies have run our services for profit not people. The public purse already pays 42% of the costs of providing local bus services, but deregulated private companies choose to run only the profitable services and leave councils to plug the gaps left for non-profitable but vital routes.
That’s why we’ll encourage local authorities to take back control of their buses so they can provide a better and more sustainable service to young and old alike, wherever they live.
Labour’s 2017 general election manifesto also committed the party to enabling councils to provide first-class bus services by extending the powers to re-regulate local bus services to all areas that want them, and supporting the creation of municipal bus companies that are publicly run for passengers not profit.
The next Labour government will introduce regulations to designate and protect routes of critical community value, including those that serve local schools, hospitals and isolated settlements in rural areas.
Labour’s commonsense, fully-costed transport policies, including this latest announcement, will benefit everyone in the country with cleaner air, freer roads and better transport links, while giving a particular boost to our hard-pressed younger citizens.
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