London’s primary school children should be given free travel during school holidays to make it easier for them to make the most of the capital’s attractions and museums Labour’s London Assembly Transport Spokesperson Val Shawcross has argued. Lower passenger numbers during August often lead to spare capacity on the transport network which could be used to introduce free travel for school children during the summer holidays without causing additional disruption.
Whilst under 11s already get free travel on Transport for London (TfL) networks, those living south of the river are significantly more likely to miss out when compared with their North London counterparts. The difference stems from train companies operating on national rail routes, which primarily serve South London, refusing to recognise the free travel scheme. Compared with North London, areas south of the river have significantly fewer tube lines and stations, forcing users to rely far more on national rail services run by companies other than TfL. The anomaly means that south of the river under 11s are far more likely to have to pay for their travel.
With increased demand on families during the summer holidays, costs can easily rack up. For example, south of the river a child’s peak return ticket from Orpington in Zone 6 to Charing Cross would cost £6.80 per child. A similar service north of the river from Rainham, also in Zone 6, would be free of charge.
Introducing a summer holiday ticket for the whole London transport network, similar to the Freedom Pass given to those over 60, would remove these discrepancies and allow all children the flexibility to explore the capital for free.
Ms Shawcross called on the Mayor to work with TfL and the National Rail providers to explore the cost and workability of giving all school-age children free travel during summer holidays.
Labour’s London Assembly Transport Spokesperson Val Shawcross AM said:
“Free travel for under 11s was introduced by the previous mayor to make sure young people were able to make the most of the capital and all of the amazing things it has to offer. With so much spare capacity on the transport network in August we could easily extend the free travel scheme to all school-age children during the summer holidays, opening up all the opportunities on London’s doorstep.
“If the Mayor really put his mind to it, I’m sure a deal could be reached to give school children free travel across London during the holidays. This would not only help millions of families but also undo the current north-south divide which means that children living in vast areas south of the river are effectively excluded from getting free travel. The bare minimum the train operators should do is to provide the free travel scheme during the school summer holidays.”