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The Welsh Labour Government are lagging behind other parts of the UK in support for young people on public transport, research by IR Cymru has discovered. Information obtained by IR Cymru and Eluned Parrott AM‘s office of similar examples of subsidised public transport in other areas of the UK highlights the areas where the Welsh Government is trailing behind.
Evidence includes examples of a number of Councils, and even the Scottish Government, where money is being invested to enable young people to socialise, access further and higher education, and additional training such as apprenticeships and internships through public transport.
IR Cymru is committed to researching and gathering evidence on issues that matter to young people in Wales. We have been successful in securing a policy motion on subsidised and sustainable public transport for young people at the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ Spring 2013 Conference.
Examples of systems across the UK include the Scottish Government’s ‘Young Scot National Entitlement Card’ which is available to all 11-26 year olds in Scotland. The card allows young people aged 16 to 18, and full-time volunteers under 26, access to discounted travel on a number of modes: one third off adult bus fares, a free Scottish Youth Railcard offering one third off rail journeys, and two free ferry journeys for island residents. 145,000 11-25 year olds are currently entitled to the Card.
Local Authorities in England also offer various concessions for young people and students.
Young people across the UK are able to access social opportunities, further training opportunities and further education. Young people in Wales however are trailing behind.
A pilot scheme between 2006 and 2008 by the Welsh Government in Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham in the North-East, and in Bridgend in South Wales offered half-price travel on buses for 16-18 year olds. This was later deemed unaffordable in the current economic climate by the Welsh Government.
On 7 February 2012 the Minister for Local Government and Communities wrote to the Chair of the Petitions Committee responding to the petition P-04-361 free bus passes for students under 25 and in full time education stating that “the Welsh Government is not able to take forward a national scheme that would provide concessionary travel for students and learners between 16 – 25 years of age. Such a scheme would be unaffordable in the face of the very tight spending constraints we face.”
Policy Officer Rhys Taylor said, “This demonstrates the incompetency of the Welsh Labour Government and highlights the narrow-mindedness of the Labour Party on policy development in Wales.
“Point blank refusing to consider subsidised transport for young people is another nail in the coffin for opportunities for young people in Wales. When Councils and the Scottish Executive and even commercial transport providers are subsidising transport for young people, the unwillingness of Welsh Government Ministers to consider government-subsidised travel in any way, shape or form, shows how the Welsh Government is failing to stand up for the people of Wales.”
IR Cymru believe that discussions of opportunities for young people needs to become more diverse if young people are going to be able to access the best opportunities available to them. IR Cymru are calling on the Welsh Liberal Democrats to propose a policy for the Welsh Government to enable our young people to get on in life whether it’s employment, education, training or socialising
You can read IR Cymru’s motion on subsidised and sustainable public transport for young people by clicking here.