Posted: Thu 26th Oct 2023

Free public transport under 25-year-olds in Wales ‘just makes sense’

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Oct 26th, 2023

Public transport should be free for under 25-year-olds in Wales, according to a Welsh Youth Parliament (WYP) report.

The call follows months of work by the Climate and Environment Committee, including surveying 1,300 young people about their transport choices.

It found that young people wanted to use more sustainable transport options – but cost was the main reason they couldn’t do so.

Committee member Elena Ruddy WYPM said: “It makes sense that transport should be free – it almost pays for itself when more young people use the service to get around to work, to shop or to go out. 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.”

The Sustainable Ways report, published today, says seven out of 10 survey respondents considered the environmental impact when deciding how to get somewhere, and found that young people generally supported the Welsh Government’s target that 45% of journeys should be made by public transport, walking and cycling by 2040.

But the Committee was frustrated to see a number of practical barriers stopping respondents from using public transport, especially the cost.

Only 22% of young people said their experience of bus fares was good or very good, and just 21% said train fares were good or very good.

Almost half of the respondents said they would use public transport a lot more if public transport was free for people under 25 – with a further 27% saying they would use it a little more.

The policy has already been suggested by the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, in the Cost of Living: Now and in the Future report published in November 2022, which says that “Local Authorities in Wales are already trialling the idea of free or heavily reduced fared transport with success.”

Many respondents also highlighted availability of public transport as a serious obstacle – with young people from rural areas especially concerned about the issue. The report highlights these comments from focus group participants:

  • “Bus and train timetables rarely link up, neither is reliable enough to try and move between the two, different tickets are required for each” (22 year old, Caerphilly)
  • “There is no central public transport point which connects to active travel – bike routes do not connect to transport interchanges” (16 year old, Pembrokeshire)
  •  “A car is the most reliable, the easiest and the cheapest. There are no public transport options at the times/locations needed’” (Parent/carer/guardian)

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.

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