That’s not fare! Outrage as free travel for 11-17 year old’s is scrapped in London.

TFL making a controversial decision surrounding fares may not sound like news at all, however the abolition of free travel accessed via ‘Zip’ cards for 11-17 year old’s is a decision that will certainly cause dread for families across London.

With fares increasing often annually for Londoners, the news that their children will no longer be able to access free travel will serve as extra stress due to the money this will cost them. The Zip card will officially be obsolete soon despite many campaigns and petitions to try and ensure its survival. The decision to abolish the Zip card will affect those of all ages, as parents will have to scramble to find money to pay for extortionate fares just so that their children can go and get an education. One parent told me, ” TFL aren’t giving me much of a choice, what they say goes … I can’t be late to work to drop my kids off and they can’t walk from here”. This situation is very common across the capital as the charity Child Poverty Action Group have highlighted in a recent survey, where 54% of parents of children aged 11-18 asked said they would have to cut back on something else to pay for fares when the Zip card is abolished. The survey has also shown that low income and BME families will be the worst effected especially as we enter a coronavirus recession.

Another expense for those already struggling…

As for children and young adults, this is yet another cut of a benefit which was so widely used and enjoyed by those eligible. In the CPAG survey 74% of children asked who own a Zip card said that they use it for getting to school or college. 33% of children would feel unsafe getting to school or college without their Zip card and 38% would worry about their punctuality. As well as these mandatory uses of transport, 56% of children said they would have to cut back on going into Central London which could have an economic effect, as well as stunting children’s opportunities to explore their city.

Ticket offices could become a lot busier in the near future…

As well as those with Zip cards, 75% of university students I spoke to told me that they feel travel in London is too expensive. These students also looked back on their Zip cards with great fondness, one student told me the move was “Unfair…I got so much out of my free travel”. Many of these students also told me the service wasn’t “adequate” for the price. Despite questions over why fares increase so much, TFL still insist they “do not make a profit” and provide “continued investment”, [quotes of Shashi Verma via] into their service.

The Government has responded to petitions made to stop the destruction of the Zip, saying “The suspension of free bus and tram travel for 11-17 year old’s will help to reduce demand for public transport so that those who need to use it can do so safely.” quotes via UK Government and Parliament petitions website. However, these quotes have hardly answered any questions, as many critics have asked why student journeys are deemed as non important. Furthermore, this has highlighted that the Government and TFL acknowledge passenger numbers will go down as people cannot afford the service. The only hope for those who will struggle with having to pay is that this will be a temporary measure as a result of COVID-19.

Machines like this will be making lots more money in the near future, once the Zip is abolished.