The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for the introduction of free public transport for all under 25s in Wales in a move that they say will help fight climate change and boost social mobility. The Party has also launched a petition to gather public support for the move.
Ahead of her debate in the Senedd later today (scheduled for 18:15), Party Leader Jane Dodds has stated that Wales needs radical solutions to shift large sections of the public towards sustainable transport and in order to cut poverty levels.
The Party argues that public transport is being neglected by both the Conservative Government in Westminster and the Labour-Plaid Cymru Administration in Wales and that the policy would help those groups reliant on public transport get ahead, provide an uplift to young people as we come out the pandemic and cut CO2 emissions and dangerous levels of air pollution.
Between 2009 and 2019 (pre-pandemic) there was a 22 per cent decline in the number of journeys by buses in Wales. Wales also continues to have the highest proportion of people travelling to work by car (estimated at approximately 75- 80 per cent). One of the biggest barriers to the public swapping to use public transport in Wales is its high cost.
Commenting on her Party’s calls, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS stated:
“Providing free public transport for under 25s provides us with a radical way in which we can get large sections of the population out of private cars and onto sustainable methods of transportation.
“Transport is one of Wales’ largest polluters. We have to do all we can to get people on to public transport and cut traffic and congestion. In turn we would see a reduction in the deadly air pollution which impacts our health.
“In addition to helping tackle climate change, this policy can help cut Wales’ high poverty rates and give young people the leg-up they need as we emerge from the pandemic.
“We want to ensure that nobody in Wales faces barriers to accessing key public services, getting the job they want, or in chasing the opportunities they deserve and affordable and accessible transport represents a key part of breaking down these barriers.
“This is especially true for young people in Wales who are too often forced to work for lower wages.
“This policy will dramatically cut household bills for young people reliant on currently expensive public transport tickets and for those who make the swap from car travel to public transport. In the current cost of living crisis this is much needed.
"It will also help young people in rural areas in particular, who we know often feel trapped if they cannot afford to learn to drive or run a car."