Activists launch campaign for free bus travel for young people, plus an improved network

Extinction Rebellion have launched a campaign for free bus travel for young people in the West of England and are calling for an improved bus network in the region.

Activists have been replacing bus adverts with posters and placed banners in locations such as the Harbourside in Bristol, detailing the changes they want made to the bus network to link communities.

A letter addressed from the activists to the West of England Combined Authority  details how they believe bus travel for under-25s, students and apprentices should be free. Additionally, they have requested that a consultation and public forum be run to identify improvements to bus routes that would best serve communities.

Torin Menzies, 17, who is an activist from Extinction Rebellion (XR), said: “We are asking for free bus travel for young people not just because of the reduced carbon emissions from increased public transport usage, but also because of the cost-of-living crisis that we are currently facing.”

It comes as the Youth Future Foundation report that young people spend, on average, “double on essentials like rent or bills than people aged over 51 will” in the current cost-of-living-crisis. Additionally, unemployment is at an all-time high for young people at 21%, with one in 10 young people not in employment or a form of education.

In their letter XR also focus on needing to cut down on car journeys in Bristol to de-escalate climate change. They believe that by giving young people free access to public transport, they can “help to develop sustainable habits that last a lifetime”.

XR and supporting groups say they are now planning more action.

We asked young people who frequently use transport in and Bristol about the proposed ideas and  received a variety of response. Some believed that making buses free for under 25s may impact bus drivers’ wages.

Others commented on how currently public transport ‘isn’t affordable for everyone, so isn’t accessible to everyone; if free, it would definitely alleviate some stress from the cost of living.

Others believed it needs to be publicly debated with a majority decision before deciding the course of action.

Kamui Oshino