Yet another hit for the jilted generation: How bus cuts undermine students’ education

A film delivered to the Department for Education calls for more support for public transport. Buses should be a positive transport option now and in the future

By Alice Ridley of the Campaign for Better Transport

Today a group of young bus users will deliver a film to the Department for Education calling for more support for public transport. The film’s message is clear: young people want buses to be a positive transport option now and into the future.

Campaign for Better Transport brought together a coalition of organisations including Association of Colleges, British Youth Council, Kent Youth County Council, National Children’s Bureau, UK Youth Parliament and the University and College Union (UCU) to produce the film and speak up for young bus users.

The vast majority of sixth form students catch a bus to college, but services are facing deep cuts with networks retracting and fares set to rise above inflation. Some school and college buses have already been removed, and there is nothing to say that timetables will not change mid-school year.

While all the political parties promised to protect concessionary fares for older people, younger people’s concessions are non-statutory and therefore not protected. As council budgets are squeezed these are now being targeted, with some councils considering imposing annual fees of £600 per student or scrapping post-16 travel support all together. We still do not know what the EMA replacement scheme will look like, or if it will include specific support for transport.

Young people from low income families living in rural areas will be hardest hit as quieter bus services that currently rely on public subsidy are often the first to go. Similarly evening and weekend services are vulnerable, meaning that part time jobs to help students get by are more and more difficult to get to.

We are calling on the government to open its eyes to the combined impact of the decisions being made on education and transport funding, because cuts to young people’s bus provision could seriously obstruct access to training and education.

This project gives young people a voice, not only to spell out the negative impacts of cuts, but also to say loud and clear that young people want to see bus services getting better not worse. It’s about looking to the future, something that comes naturally to young people but is all too often missing in council meetings and in the halls of Westminster.

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