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Public Transport Fares

Volume 591: debated on Thursday 22 January 2015

6. What assessment he has made of variations in eligibility for young person or child fares on public transport. (907140)

Mr Speaker, forgive me if this is a slightly long answer, but I am trying to cover both forms of public transport. On trains, fares for children under 16 are half of the adult fare and 16 to 25-year-olds can buy a young persons railcard providing a discount of one third off most adult fares. Bus operators, as the hon. Gentleman will know, set their own fares. The Department estimates that three quarters of under-16s and half of 16 to 19-year-olds in England receive a discount of at least one third, but there are variations across the country as local authorities must specify how they will support 16 to 19-year-olds, which may include specific financial support.

One of the failures of bus deregulation is that it allows bus companies to set their own fares. In my constituency, Arriva is exploiting young people by charging the full adult fare to 14-year-olds, yet only a few miles away that age limit rises to 16. Does the Minister agree that that is totally unjust and unfair, and will she agree to investigate?

I have looked at the numbers, and I know that Arriva has a teencard that provides a 40% discount. I will certainly look at the age specification, but I gently remind the hon. Gentleman that this is a matter for local authorities. In Conservative-controlled Staffordshire, the Your Staffordshire card allows 11 to 19-year-olds to travel on any bus in the county for just £1. I suggest he takes this eloquent pitch to Labour-controlled Northumberland council.

Does the Minister agree that public transport, particularly buses, is essential and very important to young people, as it gives them the means of access to employment, training and education?

I could not agree more with my hon. Friend. My 18-year-old daughter refuses to learn to drive because she is happy on the bus and the train.