Nicolas Bosetti, Research Manager at Centre for London said:
“Ending free bus travel for under 18s will hit London’s poorest families hardest at a time when household finances are already stretched.
“London has the highest child poverty rate in the country. Its relatively generous free travel offer has been a small way to help with this. Without it, life for London’s most vulnerable families will get even harder, and young people will have less opportunity to improve their prospects through education, sport and cultural activities.
“And as we found in our recent Fair Access report, public transport in London is already less affordable than in comparable cities.
“Charging children and young people on buses would eventually raise some revenue for Transport for London, but this would be a drop in the ocean compared the fare income lost to COVID-19.
“Therefore, this change should be conditioned to a cost benefit assessment that includes the environmental, social and wellbeing costs to both London and its young people.
“As part of the COVID-19 response, the government should work with Transport for London and boroughs to make it easier and safer for both parents and children to walk and cycle.”
“Otherwise the real risk is that those who can will return to their cars, and those who can’t will be further disconnected from education, sports and culture opportunities in other parts of the city.”