Ever since the announcement that the bailout of TfL during lockdown came with conditions, including the end of free travel for under 18s, there has been an enormous amount of misinformation pedalled by media and politicians. The LibDems started a campaign to reverse the changes despite the fact that they still haven’t been actioned. The i-news explained how children up to 15 enjoyed free travel on the tube – oh no they don’t! My London also believed that the changes had already been made, and I’m sure many other news outlets fell for the same poor journalism.
The facts are that as usual with this incompetent government, an idea was put forward and agreed without any understanding of the complexity involved in implimenting it. Never mind that the prime minister used to be the mayor and should have known better – detail was never one of Boris’ strong points. If the idea was to generate more revenue then the fact that alternative ways to allow free travel for those children that the law says must have it will have more than wiped out any savings. The main idea was to discourage use for short school journeys so that social distancing measures could still be in place. I’m yet to be convinced that this will actually work.
Anyway, an internal staff newsletter has given some more detail about what is actually happening, so I can clear up some of the misconceptions that have been spread in recent months. Firstly, the changes apply to buses and trams only. Under 11s will still travel for free on the tube, and most National Rail in London if they have a 5-10 zip card. There is no intention to scrap the zip card for any age group. Under 11s will also still travel for free on buses and trams.
What will be withdrawn, temporarily, is the free bus travel enjoyed by holders of 11-15 zip cards, as well as those 16+ zip card holders who live in London and thus qualified for free bus and tram travel. Instead they will be charged half adult fares (75p single, £2.25 daily cap) just like the 16+ zip holders from outside London. The exact implimentation date is still to be announced. I understand that starting it from the September fares revision has not proved possible, and BBC London suggested in a recent bulletin that it will be after the October half term. The mechanics of providing free travel to school for those that are entitled by law is still proving a stumbling block.
As soon as I hear any further concrete information I’ll let you all know.