Primary school children in London should be allowed to use public transport for free during the summer holidays, according to a London Assembly Member who has called for those living “south of the river” to be allowed to have free train travel to make-up for the lack of Tube lines on this side of the Thames.
Val Shawcross, a former Labour leader of Croydon Council, made the call today so that under-11s can take advantage of the capital’s attractions and museums, especially during August, when there are lower passenger numbers.
Under-11s already get free travel on Transport for London (TfL) networks – principally the buses and Tubes.
But according to Norwood resident Shawcross, those living in south London are likely to miss out significantly compared with their north London counterparts because train companies operating on national rail routes refuse to recognise the free travel scheme. The anomaly means that south of the river under-11s are far more likely to have to pay for their travel.
South of the river, a child’s peak return ticket from Orpington in Zone 6 to Charing Cross would cost £6.80. 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.
“Free travel for under-11s was introduced by the previous Mayor of London to make sure young people were able to make the most of the capital and all of the amazing things it has to offer,” Shawcross said today.
“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.”
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