Creating a platform for young people to comment on our services and be listened to, seriously and with respect, is an important part of creating a more accessible and appealing public transport service. They are the public transport users of tomorrow, so it’s vital that they’re on board. Giving young people a positive experience of buses, trams and trains at an early age, will mean they’re much more likely to continue to use public transport in the future.
I’m passionate about ensuring that South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) supports a public transport offer that young people are happy to use and feel reflects their needs. That’s why I’m supporting the new Youth Transport Charter, launched yesterday.
The idea for a Charter was driven by the local youth councils and cabinets. They told us they want to be more involved in discussions and decisions about the way they get around. It’s been set up to ensure that local authorities and transport operators give young people a voice in developing services and shaping the experience they have while using public transport.
SYPTE is committed to using young people’s feedback to encourage their generation to use public transport. Our usual transport user groups aren’t always accessible for young people, as they are usually held on midweek mornings during the school term time. That’s why SYPTE set up a new Youth Transport User Group that meets quarterly in the school holidays, specifically for young people. Attendees get free travel on the day and can benefit from the meetings being held in an accessible place, such as Meadowhall.
Responding to comments from the Youth User Group, we extended our 11-16 travel pass so that it could be used until age 18, regardless of whether the user was in full time education, an apprenticeship or work. Transport to school, college or work is the primary reason for young people to take the bus. Since it’s mandatory for young people to remain in education or training until age 18, it was vital we made this change to ensure public transport is an affordable and convenient option.
Feedback from young people also informed our decision to install Wi-Fi across SYPTE’s interchanges. Young people told us poor phone signal could make them feel isolated, so we made this change to help them to feel safer and more comfortable when travelling.
The Charter makes the safety of young people a priority by raising the awareness of measures like CCTV onboard vehicles. It also informs young people about expectations of their conduct onboard, and towards other passengers and drivers.
The changes we’ve made so far are just the first step towards a more accessible and inclusive public transport network for all. The launch of the Youth Transport Charter is another positive move towards making changes that will support and encourage young people to see public transport as the primary means of travel for the rest of their adult lives.