Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Where's the love?

Timing is everything. Or so life's serendipitous moments would suggest. As such, today's subject was inspired by my morning tube commute aside Mayor Ken. There is something about seeing a politician on public transport that is more humanising than any baby kissing. Especially when they look distinctly hung-over with a case of dry heaves.

But this is not the week for vitriolic pops at Red Ken. Not when Cameron is busy trying to convince us that the Tories really don't eat babies. Because what else do you make of their latest scheme to take away free bus travel for children? That's right, today is the eve of the Assembly slash and burn budget vote: an excuse for Tories to hit London's poorest families hardest by taking away free bus travel for kids.

Maggie Thatcher famously used to say, ‘When I see a man of 25 riding the bus, I see a man who has failed in his life’. It looks like the 'new' Conservatives think she was a bit soft. Who says there is ever a good age to ride the bus? Never mind that some 385,000 London children rely on it everyday to get to school. But, then again, who says all children have the right to an education? I wouldn't bet on the Tories.

What you can do to help:

The TUC in London has organised a lobby of City Hall, the Queen’s Walk, SE1 tomorrow (14 February, show your love for London) at 9am to defend free travel in the hour before the final budget-setting meeting. And they have also set up an online petition, details of which can be found by clicking here.

More information about this issue, is also available at the GLA website here.

Spread the love.


Anonymous fashionistawhore said...

Holy sh^t! They cant do that??!!!

Spreading the love now CS....

See you there tomorrow x

1:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whatever people think of Ken he looks after Londoners! Fight the fight London. Git en yur buss!

2:14 pm  
Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

CS, Thought you might be interested in a spot check of what's allowable in major cities on the other side of the pond:

New York City
Up to three children 44 inches tall and under ride for free on subways and local buses when accompanied by a fare paying adult. Infants (under two years of age) ride express buses free if the child sits on the lap of the accompanying adult.

Los Angeles
Two children under age 5 may travel free with each fare-paying adult on bus or rail.

Washington DC
Up to two children, 4 years and younger, ride free with each adult paying full fare. Children 5 and older pay adult fares. Special discounted student farecards and passes are available for District of Columbia residents.

CTA offers a range of reduced fares for use by:
Children ages 7-11.
Grade school and high school students with CTA Student Riding Permit.
Regular school year - $5
Summer session - $2

3:25 pm  
Anonymous honkman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:32 pm  
Anonymous honkman said...

What is the impact of this policy on obesity?! I have noticed that the number of schoolchildren on my commute that get on the bus and go one stop to the school rather than walk is massive, which makes me wonder about the health impact, as many of these would have walked the short distance before, and now don't. I doubt that this has a big impact on people that drive their children to school, as i suspect most still will!

3:37 pm  
Anonymous badgelady said...

Ken's free travel concession is wonderful. My kids all of whom travel each day to school in Hackney also use the buses extensively to explore our great city at weekends and in the evenings. For them, the concession has been a wonderfully liberating experience.

Many kids, especially in the Inner City don't have the money to pay fares or Mums or Dads with cars to provide a taxi service.

3:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post CS!

Why is being a Tory always about maintaining deprivation? Why is it when something is free to the user, that Conservatives always wish to abolish it?

Plenty of us remember not only the abolition of free school milk, but also the introduction of admission charges to the National Museums by the Tories and the selling off of playing fields depriving thousands of schools of facilities that might have been influential on the sort of society and behaviours we see nowadays.

3:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Travelling on buses now is a nightmare, especially at night. They are full of noisy intimidating teenagers. Nobody bothers to produce any kind of I.D or Oyster card which I thought was meant to be compulsory if you wanted to travel free. My teenage daughters both have them and use them but they seem to be in the minority. The scheme is being grossly abused with people who are clearly not entitled to free travel doing so anyway. they just board the buss en masse and the driver doesn't challenge them, but then who can blame them? I am one of the few left that has to pay and I deeply resent the way things have deteriorated.

3:40 pm  
Anonymous HeartyBowl said...

"Free travel for children on London's buses should be scrapped because it is too expensive and youngsters are too unruly, the Tories have urged," as one London newspaper put it.

If nothing else, we have blogging to thank for clarifying one of the key dividing lines in London politics.
Go get em Ken!

3:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Conservatives have attempted to present high-profile "corrections" of the mistakes of the Thatcher and Major governments on a few glaring issues - such as over apartheid and rail privatisation. Yet here we have the Tories in London proposing the withdrawal of free bus travel for London's children.

4:39 pm  
Anonymous bighouselittleman said...

Why are people making so many excuses to knock a sound environmental and equitable initiative which compensates in a small way for Britain's appalling environmental record within Europe?
And incidentally, why are the papers trying to tell us how trendy David Cameron is? A young girl in a nice frock with a posh face wants to vote for him (Observer), that means he must be taking Britain in the right direction.

4:39 pm  
Anonymous Dave, a script writer said...

Same old Tory villains eh CS? Help the wealthy and screw the rest of us.

I assumed the Tories would have quietly dropped their opposition to the Congestion Charge, now they're supposedly green and everything and given that it's been such a tremendous success. Thanks for pointing out their mendacity, Ken.

Hats off to the Mayor!!

4:40 pm  
Anonymous yoshky said...

How can we listen to Ken after all he worked for The Evening Standard, which is part of the Daily Mail group, which supported the blackshirts in the 30's. Makes him no better than a concentration camp guard. (heavy irony intended)

4:41 pm  
Anonymous Ellen said...

Cameron should get an Oscar nomination for his caring image!

4:42 pm  
Anonymous max said...

I'm sure David Cameron will be standing firm with Ken on this one, as a Londoner with a commitment to work-life balance and a strong interest in the family. David? David ... ?

4:42 pm  
Anonymous Frank N Stein said...

This is a huge benefit to all Londoners with children and particularly the poorly paid. The abolition of bus fares for children saves a London family at least £350 per child for those who use the bus regularly.

The most poorly paid in society are hit hardest by the massive increases in tube and bus fares we have seen in the last few years, without any real noticeable improvement in the quality of service.

David Cameron take your Tory taxes and f^ck out of London on your 4X4 cross road Iraqi starters!

4:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Conservatives are merely pointing out that this is an incredibly expensive and inefficient way of giving the poor a break and they are having really frightening unintended consequences that also rebound on the poor.

There is no double decker bus in London that has not had all of its top floor windows disfigured by graffiti etchings on the glass.

Only yesterday I saw a kid throw a bottle out of a top floor window.

The buses are a mess thanks to Livingstone and he refuses to write the Transport for London statement of accounts in such a way as you can understand the subsidy level for the buses.

Livingstone is a grade A creep.

4:46 pm  
Anonymous Adam said...

Ken may be a creep - and some of his antics make my skin crawl - but my hat's off to the man when it comes to the capital's transport system.

He's managed to engineer £10bn in investment to fill the hole created by the Tory "we don't need to maintain public infrastructure" policy, he's got more buses on the streets, expanded travel concessions for those who need them most, and he's pushing ahead with road pricing while everyone in Whitehall quakes in fear at the mention of the motorists' lobby.

So if you can manage to ignore Ken's annoying and unhelpful pronouncements on foreign affairs, he's doing a pretty good job!

5:17 pm  
Blogger ems said...

Honkman beat me to it - I generally agree with free bus travel for kids but those who would previously have walked to school jump on the bus for just one or two stops. Doesn't exactly fit with the idea of increased exercise and also unfortunately overcrowds the buses making them rather unpleasant places at times.

5:17 pm  
Anonymous Beverley said...

Great column here CS!

What Tory wankers? Busses? Surely there are bigger fish to fry?

5:18 pm  
Anonymous Sam23 said...

Honkman, EMS - I agree as well but I think it is too easy to confuse issues. We nee dto tackle obesity separately from transport. Otherwise you can never make good policy!

5:22 pm  
Anonymous Chris Bond said...

kids near me just use the buses as a free route to commit petty crime in other areas... vote Tory i say

5:47 pm  
Anonymous lighthouse shop said...

So long as the kids who play loud music have to pay a fine I am happy to let the rest go free!

5:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did Ken touch out?

6:57 pm  
Anonymous Roge said...

Is that you in the picture missus city slicker?

7:00 pm  
Anonymous Banner said...

Anonymous wrote:
'The buses are a mess thanks to Livingstone and he refuses to write the Transport for London statement of accounts in such a way as you can understand the subsidy level for the buses. Livingstone is a grade A creep.'

Hang on, haven't I read these comments before in statements posted on other sites by the Tory Councillor and blogger Phil Taylor? He of the claim that free travel for pensioners is 'mad'?


Meanwhile, whilst there's a real debate about policy taking place with Ken on one side and Tory cuts on the other, the Tory-dominated "18 Doughty Street" website is launching a negative attack on Ken Livingstone tomorrow. So over a year before the election and the Tories have gone negative.

No wonder, with policies like these.

8:39 pm  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

Feckin' Tories.


10:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush goes ballistic about other countries being evil and dangerous, because they have weapons of mass destruction. But, he insists on building up even a more deadly supply of nuclear arms right here in the US. What do you think? Is killing thousands of innocent civilians okay when you are doing a little government makeover?
Our country is in debt until forever, we don't have jobs, and we live in fear. We have invaded a country and been responsible for thousands of deaths.
The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren't living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.

3:01 pm  

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