Future Generations Commissioner calls for free public transport for young people

The Future Generations Commissioner, Sophie Howe, has called for free public transport for all under-25s.

It is part of a five point plan, released on Thursday (November 3), to tackle mounting financial pressures due to the rising cost of living, reports ITV.

It follows research from the travel charity Sustrans that shows a quarter of young people say travel costs are a barrier to attending a job interview.

In an interview with ITV Cymru Wales, Sophie Howe said: “If we were able to provide free public transport, that would be reducing those costs and helping with the cost of living crisis whilst also decarbonising our transportation system.”

Research from Sustrans also shows that around 40% of young people think that poor public transport is a barrier to getting a job.

Asked how such a scheme would be paid for, Ms Howe said that the Welsh Government is having to make really difficult choices to just maintain current spending.

“I’m not expecting them to be able to find millions upon millions of pounds to do some of these things in this particularly challenging year,” she continued.

“What I’m asking them to do is to start looking beyond the current crisis.

“We can’t just deal with the problems of the here and now. We have to start looking at how those problems are going to play out for the next generation, and the next one and the next one to come.”

People over the age of 60 and disabled people are eligible for a free bus pass in Wales, while 16 to 21-year-olds have discounted bus travel. 

Ms Howe’s proposals are part of five policy ideas for tackling the cost of living crisis that she discussed with ITV’s Wales This Week programme.

As well as an extension of free public transport, the commissioner has suggested an expanded housing retrofit programme, a long-term national food strategy, a long-term vision for every home in Wales to be self-sufficient for its energy and heat needs and long-term financial planning to roll out the basic income pilot.  

In response to the Future Generations Commissioner, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Whilst we can’t shield everyone from the cost of living crisis, we are doing everything we can to support people through this very difficult period with targeted support to help those who need it the most.

​​”There are a range of schemes offering discounted and free travel for children and young people on public transport in Wales. These are kept under review.”


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