Merton Councillor Vows To TfL's End Of Free Travel For Children

Claims hard-working families will be 'burdened'  by the move

Covid roundal

Hard working families in Merton will be ‘burdened’ having to pay for their children to travel a councillor has claimed.

In May the government announced a £1.6 billion bailout for Transport for London (TfL) after it faced serious financial difficulties due to loss of fare revenue during the coronavirus pandemic.

But one of the terms of the bailout was ending free travel for under-18s. In Merton this was branded a “completely retrograde step” by cabinet member for transport, Councillor Martin Whelton.

At a council meeting on Wednesday (July 8) he said: “Many hard working families will suffer having to pay for the fares for their children to go to school.

“It also concerns me that it will potentially fall on the local authority to pay for the passes as it is a statutory responsibility.

“We have been saved by TfL having that responsibility since 2004 but I feel that there will be a long-term cost and this is a burden that the government has placed on hard working families in Merton.

“I would ask that government reconsider this change and I believe that it is wrong. Free travel should be kept and I will fight to keep it.”

Councillor Whelton said that discussion with government ministers is being spearheaded by London Councils and TfL.

But added that the council is contributing to the case to retain free transport for youngsters.
He said it is necessary for young people to lead a “full and active life”.

By Tara O'Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

July 9, 2020