Current Affairs

Young gay Londoners defend free buses

Marc Shoffman December 18, 2006
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Young LGBT people have hit out at the deputy chairman of the London Assembly’s transport committee for proposing to abolish free bus travel for under-18s.

Conservative Assembly Member Roger Evans claims on his blog that the free travel scheme for young Londoners is costing £55 million and is being abused through anti-social behaviour.

Answering a question on his blog site, Mr Evans said: “Given the cost of this concession, the levels of antisocial behaviour and the lack of control over the issuing and checking of passes, I will be recommending abolition – if asked.”

However, the LGBT Youth Council, which works with service deliverers to inform them about the needs of LGBT young people, says taking away the scheme would be disastrous for young Londoners who often travel outside their homes to seek same sex services such as health advice and support.

Gary Rowland, coordinator of the group, told “Young people don’t travel to services in their own area, they may want to remain anonymous.

“Scrapping the scheme may stop them accessing the services.”

In a letter to Mr Evans, the Council said: “Many young LGBT people travel to boroughs outside of that in which they live in order to access services anonymously and with discretion. By removing free travel you are removing the ability for many young LGBT people to access safe spaces in which they are able to receive both professional and peer support and guidance in relation to their sexual orientation and gender identity. These services play a vital role in the lives of young LGBT people as many statutory bodies, i.e. schools, do not offer such services.”

London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who pioneered the scheme in 2004, has also criticised Mr Evans, describing the scheme as a huge benefit to families.

Last week, Mr Evans proposed a motion to the London Assembly urging the Mayor and Transport for London to take action against people playing loud music on public transport.

The motion said: “Playing loud music that impinges on other passengers should be as socially unacceptable as smoking on the Underground. Transport for London and bus operators act to tackle this problem, if current regulations are insufficient then they should be updated to account for this growing nuisance.

“We call on the Mayor and TfL to take urgent steps to tackle this problem, through effectively enforcing the current conditions of carriage and, if necessary, updating them. It should be the goal of everyone to make sure this anti-social practice is as socially unacceptable as smoking on the Underground.”

It is often young people who are seen to be the culprits of this practice, although it is not always necessarily someone under 18.

Meanwhile, people of all ages should be targeted for often disregarding their cigarettes as they board a bus, regardless of who they will burn behind them, and for shouting down a mobile phone.

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