My Second Pledge – Half-Price Bus Travel For Under-21s

09 March 2020

I am standing for mayor of Bristol to make it a fairer and greener city. A vote for me and Green councillors in Bristol this May is a vote to get Bristol moving. 

Traffic has an impact on all of our lives every day. It is something we are so used to we almost don’t even notice it, and yet it is the beginning of almost every conversation – ‘How was the traffic?’ ‘Sorry I’m late, bad traffic.’ 

Transport is the ‘bad boy’ of climate change.  It is the only part of our life in Bristol where our carbon emissions are rising.    

Traffic slows business. I went out for a day’s work with Chris – ‘White Van Man’ – last year. He is a gardener. In the average day, he reckons he loses about an hour to traffic. 

Traffic pollutes our air – Bristol’s air is some of the most toxic in the UK and over 300 people die prematurely each year because of it. 

Traffic slows everyone down. We have entered the cycle of encouraging more cars, which slows down buses and makes cycling and walking unsafe, so more people chose to use their cars.   

And so buses are slow and late (a complaint I hear often) and so people decide to take the car. Bus companies are forced to raise fares and stick to the profitable routes. 

Second-best becomes second-rate

And so it goes on. The more we invest in car travel, the more that public transport, walking and cycling become second best, and those without cars are left behind. But public transport is a right, not a privilege. It makes our city a more equal place, giving older and younger people access to the education, jobs and opportunities everyone else takes for granted.

The most vulnerable, the youngest and oldest are most disadvantaged by our system. Older people get free travel but young people who are just starting out in life are particularly hard-hit. They are less likely to own a car or be able to afford high bus fares. Long before I started working with young people and ever since, they have been asking for cheaper bus travel.

Labour have tinkered around the edges and no one has noticed the change. Tinkering makes no impact so we must be bold. We will do two things – reduce traffic and give people a real choice in how they travel.

A fairer city

We are pledging to make bus fares half-price for under-21s.

This will be paid for by a congestion charge for those travelling into Bristol by car from outside of the city between 7-10am. This  will reduce congestion by 30%. A congestion charge also generates income. Estimates from the 2013 study in Bristol suggest about £6.5m of surplus each year, which will be spent on our pledge to encourage people to use public transport – making Bristol a fairer city.

Those who need to travel by car or van will move more freely;  public transport will run on time and business will still thrive. London and Durham have done it, and now it’s time for Bristol.

A real pledge, properly costed

I am not promising an uncosted pledge at some point in the future, but a real promise to reduce congestion and kickstart the bus revolution.  

If you elect me as mayor, I will deliver this by the end of this term of office.

This is action, not words. Young people deserve to have a bright future and Bristol deserves the best possible public transport system. This is only the beginning but this pledge will Get Bristol Moving – making our city a greener and fairer place.  

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Get Bristol Moving

I'll make bus fares half-price for under 21s

A fairer City

We'll build 2,000 new council homes

A greener City

We'll insulate every council home, reducing emissions by 75%