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Young people take their transport protest to the education secretary

2 June 2011
Young people who feel their access to education is under threat from cuts to transport budgets will deliver a film petition to education secretary Michael Gove MP today.

The film has been produced by a coalition of youth and environmental organisations who are concerned that young people's views are not being taken into account when transport funding decisions affecting them are being made.

With bus networks across the country shrinking and fare rises of eight per cent above inflation expected in some areas, Campaign for Better Transport, Association of Colleges, British Youth Council, Kent Youth County Council, National Children's Bureau, UK Youth Parliament and the University and College Union (UCU) worked with the young people to produce the short film, which calls for more to be done to assess the impact of public transport cuts.

Cuts to bus services introduced in recent months have already meant the end of council-funded rural, evening and weekend buses in many parts of the country. To make matters worse, councils published their new home to college transport policies on Tuesday (31 May) with some planning to axe all support for post-16 travel. Combined with the uncertainty surrounding the replacement for Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), young people starting post-16 education in September face an uncertain future.

Sophie Allain, Campaign for Better Transport's bus campaigner, said: "Young people depend on buses to access education and training opportunities inside and outside of college. Very simply, if they can not catch the bus they are seriously disadvantaged. We're worried that each of the decisions about funding for post-16 students is being made in isolation and it will only be in September that the combined impacts of all these changes will be clear. By then of course it will be too late."

Samuel Watkin, 14 from Maidstone who appears in the film, said: “I think it’s essential that the people making the decisions look at bus cuts from our perspective. We are the ones who will bear the brunt of these cuts because public transport is a lifeline for so many young people who can't drive and can't rely on their parents for lifts. That why I wanted to make this film, to show the real issues affecting young people like me across the country."

Alice Stretch, 15 from Canterbury who also appears in the film, said: “Buses are important to everyone, but especially young people, so we should be listened to when public transport is being cut.”

The organisations are calling on all those with a role in supporting post-16 transport to make sure they understand the full impacts of their combined decisions and work together to ensure that no young person misses out on opportunities due to a lack of transport.

To view the film visit our You Tube channel

Notes to Editors

1. The young people will deliver the film petition to education secretary Michael Gove MP at the Department for Education, Sanctuary Building, Great Smith St, SW1P 3BT on Thursday 2 June at 12:00pm. Media are welcome to attend. The film petition will be available on a laptop for photo purposes.

2. The film has been produced by Campaign for Better Transport, Association of Colleges, British Youth Council, Kent Youth County Council, National Children's Bureau, UK Youth Parliament and the University and College Union (UCU).

3. A survey carried out by the Association of Colleges found that 72 per cent of students take a bus to college with an average home to college journey of nine miles. 94 per cent of colleges believe the abolition of EMA will affect students' ability to travel to and from college.

4. Save Our Buses is a campaign from Campaign for Better Transport that makes the case for buses to Government decision-makers and supports local campaign groups to fight bus cuts in their area. For more information, or to view the interactive map showing bus cuts across the county, visit the Save Our Buses website.