Free London travel for under-18s ‘ending by half-term’

Free travel on London’s transport for under-18s will stop after October half-term, according to government plans.

The plan to temporarily stop free travel for under 18s was a condition Transport for London’s (TfL) £1.6bn lockdown bailout.

About 30% of kids who currently travel by bus to school would still be eligible for travelling free, TfL said.

The Mayor of London called on the government to abandon the plans.

It is hoped the move will help social distancing through the COVID-19 recovery, and free travel for under-18s is expected to be re-introduced, though no date has been set. 

A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan said the policy “will hit the poorest Londoners hardest and put significant administrative and financial strains on already stretched schools and local authorities”. 

“Rather than taking this measure through, the Government should work with TfL to find a better solution that doesn’t risk hitting the most disadvantaged Londoners hardest”. 

In a letter to TfL, Transport Minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton announced the government plans to start the temporary stop of free travel for the under 18 “immediately after October Half Term”.

Half-term falls from Monday 24 October to Friday 28 October this year.

To reach this date, Baroness Vere said it is “vital” TfL proceed to work “closely and collaboratively” with the Department for Transport.

Under the plans, kids aged 11-17 who live more than two miles from their school will still be qualified to Oyster cards allowing free travel.

Children with specific medical or educational needs will also continue to travel for free. 

Deputy Chair of London’s Transport Committee Caroline Pidgeon called the plan “misguided, complicated and simply wrong”.

Ms Pidgeon said: “The policy of free travel for young people that has existed since 2005 should not be altered. 

“The last thing young people and low-income households need is to face more challenge this autumn.”