Sunderland MP backs Labour policy to fund free bus travel for under-25s

Sharon Hodgson has signalled her support for the plan.
Sharon Hodgson has signalled her support for the plan.

A Sunderland MP has backed a new policy by the Labour Party to fund free bus travel for people aged under 25.

Labour say that the move could benefit up to 13million young people and help them save up to £1,000 a year.

The travel would be paid for using money ring-fenced from vehicle excise duty.

Labour say that should they win the next General Election, they will provide the funds to local authorities who introduce bus franchising or move to public ownership of their local bus services.

Sharon Hodgson, the MP for Washington and Sunderland West and the shadow public health minister, has backed the plan.

She said: "I am proud that Labour has committed to giving free bus passes to under-25s.

"This investment is not just about transport, but about investing in children and young people’s futures who, under a Labour government, will have more freedom to access education, leisure and work.

“This is a bonus for public health, as it will reduce congestion on the roads, tackle our chronic air pollution crisis and encourage children and young people to lead more active lives as they will be able to have greater access to sports and recreational activities.”

Launching the policy at a visit to a sixth form in Derby on Thursday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to say: “Young people deserve a break.

"Nearly eight years of Tory austerity have hit their incomes, their chance to buy a house and their career opportunities.

"Labour wants to help young people make the most out of life by investing in them, which is why today we are pledging the next Labour government will provide the funds to cover free bus travel for under 25s, to support them to travel to work, to study and to visit friends.

“Our policy provides help where it is most needed.

"On average, children, young people and households with children each have less disposable income than working age households without children.

"Young people also tend to be in lower paid, more insecure work, and they spend a higher proportion of their income on travel.

"Giving them free bus travel will make a huge difference to their lives.”

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald is expected to say: “Buses are vital for easing road congestion and air pollution, but for too long, private bus companies have run our services for profit not people.

"The public purse already pays 42% of the costs of providing local bus services, but deregulated private companies choose to run only the profitable services and leave councils to plug the gaps left for non-profitable but vital routes.

“That’s why we’ll encourage local authorities to take back control of their buses so they can provide a better and more sustainable service to young and old alike, wherever they live.”