Sunday, March 30, 2008

Boris' Freedom Pass Guarantee

I was pleased to see Boris highlighting his pledge to keep the Freedom Pass on his website. There has certainly been a lot of misinformation given by Ken Livingstone and his cronies over the last year or so, suggesting that the concessionary travel scheme was under threat from the Conservatives.

This has never been the case, but Livingstone repeated the claims to divert attention away from the main argument. At the moment, London Councils, an umbrella organisation representing all of the Boroughs administers the cost of running the scheme taking money from each council. Transport for London set the price for the pass. If London Councils feel that they are getting a raw deal, they have recourse to bring it in front of an arbiter; one Ken Livingstone. This is hardly equitable and ensures that TfL can squeeze yet more money away from local control into the centralised pot being dished out from City Hall.

Each party believes that it is a good idea to provide free travel for over-65s and disabled people. However Ken Livingstone has attempted to make it received wisdom that because the Conservatives - who are the largest Party on London Councils by controlling the most Boroughs - deign to disagree with Livingstone, we would make the fantastical jump of scrapping the whole thing. Definitely a case of saying a falsehood enough times to make people believe it!

10 comments:

Cllr David Pickles said...

Livingstone has always lied about the freedom pass. His cheapsake effort giving "teenagers" free passes (which has caused no end of problems on the buses) has led to calls for the freedom pass for them to be curtailed to school run times.

When I was in the conservatives I knew it was perceived wisdom that the Tories would not scrap the passes, it would be electoral suicide in any case.

At least Johnson has had the balls to come out with it in a direct way. Livingstone's time at the helm is limited.

Scully said...

David

The free travel for youngsters is a constant source of problems. My preference would be to investigate an American-style school bus system. I say investigate, because the cost might be too prohibitive. However in principle it could work. School rules would apply as soon as a pupil gets on the bus, a scheme in Surrey has shown that parents can track the bus via the web to see if their child has swiped their card or if they are late, thus improving security and reassuring parents. Finally it would remove the great masses of school children from the normal bus system at peak times. Many older people feel intimidated by large crowds of youngsters, even if they are just playing around making too much noise. My son was put off using them when he consistently had to wait for three buses to find a space with a deadline to get to an after-school job.

Boris has taken a different view and introduced a scheme called Payback London where under-18s who abuse their right to free travel will have to earn it back through community service. I am very much attracted to the strong message that this policy sends out.

simon said...

Boris has done himself a huge service to London by pledging to keep the freedom pass. Although i had reservations at first he has assured his support for thes free pass users and it has earned him my vote.

RFK said...

I am very pleased to see this. Although I think it has been common knowledge that Boris would support Freedom Passes, it has been an issue that Ken Livingstone and his supporters have tried to spin. So this will put an end to that!

The school bus system is an excellent idea. I will also be interested to see how Boris' scheme to earn back a freedom pass works out. I'm glad at least one Mayoral candidate has decided to do something about this problem. In my opinion, the late night use of these passes has heavily contributed to the anti-social behaviour on our local buses.

Anonymous said...

The Freedom Pass is a critical tool for transport for older people and disabled people in London. It is the sign of a civilised society to have such a system, Boris Johnson is right to do this.

Good on him. I wouldn't trust Ken Livingstone to continue this service, knowing him he'd only keep it for young thugs!!!

simon said...

rfk,
you're right that antisocial behaviour is a central issue in transport, soi'm also pleased to hear that Boris has pledged to double the number police officers patrolling buses.

He's also done the right thing by planning to give injured servicemen free travel on London's buses.

Along with his promise to keep the Freedom Pass these policies are sound and have my backing.

Red Ken is in deep water, i think.

shemi cheam said...

i agree with the above comments about the freedom pass,, my mom is 81 and really mobile and uses her pass alot..i dont trust ken livingestone to keep it going!!lots of ppl rely on it.

shemi
cheam

Anonymous said...

This is definitely a step in the right direction for Boris Jonson. I hope he will get tough on the young thugs on buses and trains too. I'll vote for him if he does.

RFK said...

Shemi,

Very true, my Mum is eligible for a Freedom Pass soon. At last she will get something back for the ridiculously large amount of Council Tax she pays!

shemi cheam said...

yes RFK i feel we all pay too much council taxes. i dont think that my mom would be so active at 81 if she did not have the Freedom pass atn her disposal to travel around,,it is fantastic that Boris johnston has decided to keep it if ellected the mayor of London..dont trust ken!

shemi
cheam