Disrupting Poverty 14/10/11: Free Bus Travel for Kids
Our group looked at Free Bus Travel for kids (we assumed this would apply to all children up to 17). The aim is that freedom to travel around Leeds would give young people easy access to places and activities around the city, expanding the experience and opportunities available to them.
This proposal has been discussed by Leeds City Council, but was dropped because it was considered unaffordable. Tom Riordan recalled that the estimated cost was £8m per year. The group recognised that this could not be raised through Council Tax, and considered other ways of raising revenue or reducing costs to revive the idea, including:
- Setting up a congestion charge scheme for the City Centre*
- Imposing a surcharge on car parks*
- Seeking sponsorship from Leeds-based businesses, and perhaps from better-off parents
- Increasing penalty charges for unauthorised parking
- Asking travel companies to contribute directly to a free travel budget instead of (or as well as) some of the community sponsorship they currently advertise
- Allowing free travel for children at certain times of day and/or agreed routes
- Asking the Passenger Transport Authority to develop child friendly policies and negotiate these with transport providers
- Building partnerships between schools and travel companies. Travel companies could sponsor schools/voluntary groups by providing free travel for after school activities at schools/leisure/sports centres/community centres/youth clubs/centres/healthy living centres/ children centres/Libraries etc
We also mentioned the option of incentivising cycling, by creating more cycle routes and possibly providing free bikes for young people in the most deprived areas.
* Some concerns that these two ideas might put off shoppers and hence hit city centre retailers