Kent TUSC stands up for Freedom Passes

Mia Townsend

Kent socialists, workers and students kicked off their Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) election 2015 campaign with four new candidates pledging to fight price rises for young people on local public transport.

Kent Freedom Pass (KFP) gave Kent’s 11-16 year olds unlimited countywide bus travel.

But Kent County Council (KCC), who last year hiked up prices from £50 to £100, doubled the price again and restricted travel to Monday to Friday, between 6am and 7pm.

Originally KCC proposed a £100 charge for a travel card with £350 worth of standard price bus travel. After this was gone, young people would just pay the normal fare!

Students could not use the bus beyond their first term at school, let alone any social or extra-curricular activities. A scheme for 16-19 year olds will now cost £400 for some.

But the KFP is a KCC subsidy to private bus companies, which siphon off as profits any money not spent on running the service. Stagecoach, East Kent’s main provider, posted profits last year of £218 million, money owed to busworkers and service users!

Young people set up a “Kent Freedom Riders” campaign to reduce the cost of the freedom pass to the original £50 and to provide the old free ‘travel to school’ pass, taking the battle to campuses and schools.

Kent TUSC supports this move and demands free travel for young people, whose education, extra-curricular activities and social time must come before private profits.