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Public Transport for Under-25s ‘Should Be Free’ in Wales

Public transport should be free for under-25s, the body made up of 60 young people from across Wales has said.

The Welsh Youth Parliament (WYP) argued the policy “almost pays for itself” as young people can use buses and trains to go to work, shop or go out.

The report, titled Sustainable Ways, said the main obstacle to more young people using buses and trains was cost.

But minister Lee Waters said the Welsh government does not “have the funding to make buses free for young people”.

The report by the WYP’s climate and environment committee, surveyed 1,300 young people about their travelling habits.

Committee member Elena Ruddy said: “It’s a no-brainer really and if we set up these good habits in young people, they’re more likely to carry on using public transport when they’re older too.”

Among the young people asked, seven out of 10 said they considered their environmental impact when deciding how to get somewhere.

Almost half said they would use public transport a lot more if it was free for under-25s and a further 27% said they would use it a little more.

Another committee member, Hermione Vaikunthanathan-Jones, said: “I think young people do find costs limiting, so by making public transport free this will encourage young people to use it more often.

“Also, it means that it’s more accessible for a range of people.”

By 2040, the Welsh government wants 45% of journeys to be made by public transport, walking or cycling.

Apart from cost, the respondents highlighted the availability of public transport, particularly in rural areas, as a problem.

The WYP report makes a total of 13 recommendations, including for greater investment in public transport generally and more safe active travel routes.

It will be presented to the Welsh government and ministers will be given a chance to respond at a meeting next month.

Deputy climate change minister Mr Waters, who is responsible for transport, said: “I’m afraid we simply don’t have the funding to make buses free for young people.

“We do provide a discount of 1/3 to young people under 21 through the My TravelPass scheme, and a 1/3 rail discount is available on trains for holders of a young person’s Railcard.

“Under-16s can also travel for free on Transport for Wales trains when travelling with fare-paying adults.”

What do people on the streets of Cardiff think?

Cardiff University law student Amelia McFarland, 19, was about to be “skint” because her rent was due and said free public transport “would be helpful”.

Lorainee Themistocli, 20, from Cyprus, said being away from home meant she could not see her family as often she might like.”Trains are so expensive and all the train strikes as well make it even harder,” she said.

Nathan Timmins, from Bournemouth, said free public transport would help to save money.

“A lot of people use buses and trains so spend money on that,” the 18-year-old added.

“Personally I don’t use them as often, but there are times I use the bus to get elsewhere in Cardiff.”

Alison Ongjiaru, 21, from Malaysia, uses public transport if she needs to buy something from somewhere too far to walk.

“I do think they should be free, because I would be paying a lot of money to get to the destination when it’s only a few miles away.

“I don’t use them often because it means waiting at a bus stop. I have used the trains but I think they are quite expensive.”

Source : BBC