View from the community: Transport funding should increase, not be cut

Janet Shapiro says Freedom Passes lead to well-being in pensioners.

Janet Shapiro says Freedom Passes lead to well-being in pensioners. - Credit: Archant

Is it just older people that look to the future? David Attenborough is commended for just that in our recent Save the Planet bulletin (

No! Young people like Greta Thunberg understand. Greta works hard to persuade politicians to take urgent action to stop global warming. Also David Attenborough has enlisted Prince William and very young children to demand that effective action is taken.

But what is the UK government doing? London transport is managed by Transport for London under the London mayor, better than most regions of the UK where de-regulation leads to inefficient competition between services. Retired people have the national bus pass, valid on any bus whatever the company, but often lack access to decent bus services.

Just when we want to survive the pandemic that is making life so difficult, the government is reducing support for public transport in our capital city. London residents have travelled less, complying with official advice. They observed social distancing that reduced passenger numbers and revenue. At such a time, subsidy from central government should increase, not be cut.

To address climate change people must be encouraged to use public transport. Fares, already higher than in some European cites, should be affordable - not be increased.

In London under-18s had been granted free travel. They need to travel free, as not earning. Why force TfL to remove this concession from the young who will suffer long term from Covid-19?

Researchers at Imperial College confirm benefits of the national Bus Pass in the form of well-being and health. London pensioners, having the Freedom Pass that allows free travel on a wider range of public transport, have contributed hugely to child and adult care, the voluntary sector and community groups. When restrictions necessary during the pandemic are lifted and London pensioners are encouraged to get out and about, it will be needed even more.

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We understand that, on a temporary basis, the Freedom Pass cannot be used during peak travel times to allow compliance with social distancing, but this concession, so necessary for normal community engagement, must not be permanently withdrawn.

• Janet Shapiro and her colleagues run Hornsey Pensioners’ Action Group.