“Public transport forms a pillar in the lives of many young people” 4th November 2011

Citizenship Education  |  Political education and voting age  |  Transport

UK Youth Parliament’s first debate was around a motion which calls for a cheaper, subsidised public transport system for young people in full time education.

MYP for East Sussex, James Davies, had the nerve wracking job of opening the first debate. He supported the motion, making very clear and valid points throughout his speech. He showed his passion for the issue and stated how “Transport affects every young person, whether it’s getting to your job, getting to school or college, or even getting to health services. Public transport forms a pillar in the lives of many young people”. He outlined three main problems: the price, the consistency and the accessibility of public transport. “Young people are taken advantage of and are forced to pay unreasonable fares”. He ended by urging MYPs to support transport as the 2012 National Campaign as “there are a multitude of issues that should not be allowed to continue”.

South West Member of Youth Parliament, Maria Neary, followed this up with a counter argument for the reasons as to why transport should NOT be this year’s National Campaign. She stated that “our national campaign topic needs to be something current and crucial” and that transport”is not a problem for young people to solve”. It was suggested that if alternative means of transport were used such as the “Boris’ bikes scheme, which has 110,000 subscribers so far”, then it would have three positive outcomes as opposed to one; “both walking and cycling are carbon free, it’s great exercise and they’re both cheap methods of transport”. The final argument against transport being the national campaign was that the impossible financial situation is what is important, not the state of public transport. This was made with powerful descriptive imagery, so that her point can be empathised with – “I want you to imagine one third of the people in this chamber, in your classroom and in your community, excluded from a lifetime of opportunities due to insufficient funds.”

Many MYPs gave personal accounts as to why transport is an important issue for young people, from stories of bus fares more than doubling on their 16th birthdays from £2 to £5, to the poor punctuality causing young people to regularly turn up late to work or school multiple times a week. Most young people seemed to feel passionate that this was an important issue for young people across the nation.

However, many other Members of Youth Parliament mutually agreed that although there is no denying the importance and effectiveness of cheaper, subsidised transport, it is not what the UKYP national campaign should be because it is a campaign that is better tackled on a local basis, as every region has their own problems with transport since it is run differently in different parts of the nation.

All in all, the debate was very unbiased with viewpoints from both sides of the argument being put forward, and it was full of information and opinions on the matter that only young people who themselves have been in the position could express. Two very highly rated and congratulated powerful speeches that have been noted were made by Bolton MYP, Asim Iqbal and MYP, Amber.

Asim gave a very thought-provoking speech about what young people and their financial skills, suggesting that perhaps it’s not just a case of lowering transport fees but prioritising what we spend our money on. He stated that “most people can’t afford transport, but will have a £2-300 phone in their pocket. The money should go towards something more important, such as youth workers, because in 10 years time, I will still remember what they did for me.” He also expressed his disagreements with the unhappiness some young people have that the elderly are entitled to free transport, “When I am 60 and I have put my money into the system for so long, I don’t have a car, I’d expect a free bus pass!”.

Amber, MYP, was strongly in favour of the motion. She believes that young people should have subsidized public transport, particularly to attend school, somewhere that they have to be by law. She gave the startling fact that “It can cost up to £1000 a year to get to school, and with three or four children over the seven years that we must be in school, it could be cheaper to buy a house closer to school than to pay for the bus!” This shocking fact made everyone really think.

James Potts had the difficult job of closing this controversial debate. He explained how public transport is an issue “close to the hearts of young people in the UK today”. He gave the shocking fact that a “cut in fares of 20% would lead to an increase in bus travel of 13%”. He believes that a National Code of Practice would help young people; however he also described the “viable alternatives to public transport that are a healthy alternative to public transport”. He concluded by urging MYPs to “vote to change an issue that affects us all, that we can make a difference, to public transport”.

Written by Razzia Gafur, DMYP Newcastle
North East Media Rep
Vicky Olive, DMYP Poole
South West Media Rep