2 July 2020
Proposed Removal of Travel Subsidies for Young People
I am writing because I hope you share our concern about the impact of the proposed suspension of free travel for under 18-year olds.
We understand that the Department for Transport has agreed with Transport for London (TfL) a plan to suspend the subsidy for under 18-year-olds, citing it is a London-specific investment and that young people should lead the way in reducing transport usage in the wake of COVID-19. We know Local Authorities are working to represent the interests of young schoolchildren (under-16) impacted by this proposal. Our concern is for those aged 16 years and over and how this decision will affect their continuing education and training. There are over 90,000 young people in school sixth forms and 78,000 in colleges across the capital, all working to make London a more highly skilled and prosperous city. Just living in Croydon South, there are currently 1610 16 to 18-year-olds and 640 apprentices who commenced their apprenticeship in 2018-19. I am deeply concerned about how the impact of the removal of this subsidy will affect these young people and those we plan to work with in the future.
Across London colleges, two thirds of college students are BAME and most students are disadvantaged; educationally, socially or economically. Almost a quarter of our young students are eligible for free school meals. Travel has never before been a barrier to young people’s participation in further education opportunities, but this decision makes it so.
93% of London College students aged 16 to 19 travelled between 2-6 miles (straight line) in 2019-20 to access their college. Young people choose their college for many reasons. Many young people travel further distances to come to our college in order to take advantage of our unique blend of academic and vocational qualifications as well as our reputation. Others take their post-16 education as an opportunity to reinvent themselves; to get away from a poor educational history, behavioural issues or gang affiliations.
Our college’s reopening plans include minimising travel on public transport. However, to protect the most disadvantaged young people from being negatively impacted by this decision, we are asking that the specific 16+ Oyster card is retained for subsidised travel.
I hope you will appreciate the significant consequences for your young people in South Croydon (and those beyond who choose to come to Coulsdon Sixth Form College), of the proposed removal of travel subsidies.
Principal, Coulsdon Sixth Form College
If you would like to sign the petition, please click here.