Barking and Dagenham College principal warns ending free travel for under 18s will limit access to education
PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 July 2020
A college principal has warned ending free travel for under 18s will limit poorer children’s access to education.
Barking and Dagenham College is backing a campaign to keep travel on public transport in London free for youngsters after it was announced the perk would end as part of a government bail out of TfL.
The campaign called Don’t Zap the Zip: Keep London transport free for under 18s is led by the Child Poverty Action Group.
Children in London have been able to travel around the capital for free or at a discounted rate since 2005. But that’s due to change.
As part of the bailout, the government wants to suspend free travel for under 18s to protect public health and avoid overcrowding on buses.
But campaigners argue this will be a disaster for families with children who are already struggling.
College principal, Yvonne Kelly, said: “All our learners will be negatively affected by the decision.
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“However, those with the lowest household income will be hit hardest. This will mean that our learners are less able to travel to college and, consequently, it will limit their access to education.
“Accessing online learning has been a challenge for most people, and particularly for the most deprived households.
“As colleges and schools begin to open up, we should be doing everything we can to encourage learners to be able access their education and catch up where they need to do.
“Taking away their free means of getting to college is a step in the wrong direction,” Ms Kelly added.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The decision to suspend under-18 travel is a temporary measure to help tackle the spread of Covid-19 and reduce the risk of crowding on our transport network.
“We will also be ensuring that the concession for children eligible under national legislation for free home to school travel will continue.”
The Association of Colleges has also written to secretary of state for transport, Grant Shapps, urging the government to reverse the decision.
Leaders from London’s colleges, including Ms Kelly, are also writing to MPs warning of the detrimental impact on young people’s education and training opportunities and the risk shutting out the most disadvantaged from moving around the city could have.
To sign the petition search “Children’s Bus pass no longer free” at Change.org
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