‘All under-21s should have free bus travel’

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It is just four miles from Havre des Pas to St Aubin but, for a couple, a return journey would cost £16 and require two buses to make the south-coast trip each way. Travelling in a car would cost less than £1 in fuel and, if it’s after 5pm, parking is free.

Deputy Rob Ward, a vocal campaigner for greener alternatives in Jersey, said it was a ‘blindingly clear’ example of one of numerous changes that needed to be made to encourage Islanders out of their cars – changes that he says have not been addressed in the Sustainable Transport Policy. He said the minister should be taking action to address such issues without the need for backbenchers to bring propositions or amendments.

Talks of a vote of no confidence in Deputy Lewis have been mooted and now more amendments have been lodged to his plan.

Deputy Rob Ward is calling for everyone under 21 in Jersey to get free bus passes – after a £20 admin fee. It was the Deputy’s failed proposition in the summer, which called for free bus passes for all, that led to a successful amendment by Simon Crowcroft for the Sustainable Transport Policy to be created.

And Mr Crowcroft, who last month called on the minister to pull the ‘failed’ policy or risk heavy defeat in the Chamber, has now lodged a string of amendments of his own to the document he gave a ‘three out of ten for realism’.

The Constable’s five amendments, which include a variety of sub points, call for the Deputy to all but tear his policy up. Deputy Lewis has previously said he stands by it and says it will be successful.

Mr Crowcroft said: ‘At first glance, the new Sustainable Transport Policy for Jersey appears to fulfil the requirements of the States Assembly following my amendment. Skimming through the well-illustrated Appendices, with their tables, case studies and mission statements, there is not a great deal to disagree with if you believe, as I do, that we should be reducing traffic congestion and pollution and making walking and cycling safer and more attractive modes of travel for at least some journeys, for those who can make such choices.

‘But dig a little deeper into the document, and one finds that there is very little policy-making going on. Strictly speaking, the minister has failed to deliver a Sustainable Transport Policy at all.’

Mr Crowcroft’s amendments call for the minister to take his plan back to the drawing board and address numerous issues.

Speaking to the JEP, Deputy Ward said he thought his amendment for free travel for under-21s would help inspire a ‘behavioural change away from reliance on private vehicles’ among young people. Deputy Lewis’ policy does include plans to cut school traffic including shuttle buses and ‘walking buses’ from St Helier to the St Saviour schools.

Deputy Ward added: ‘It is a tangible move to encourage younger people onto buses and away from the use of private cars. It will include those who are starting their careers, often in St Helier, and who may be on lower incomes. This would enable both travel to school on school buses, and to school and college on the bus network. It will also give access to future developments, such as the skate park at Les Quennevais, thus encouraging exercise and active lifestyles.’

Asked if he would consider a vote of no confidence in the minister, Deputy Ward said: ‘If we change now there would be more delay. That would be my only concern.’

The Sustainable Transport Policy, lodged on New Year’s Eve, outlines several key principles about making cycling and walking safer, cutting the use of petrol and diesel cars and investing in the bus system over the next decade. It also contains plans, to be introduced or progressed this year, for traffic-free days on some St Helier roads, improving cycle routes, bus lanes and appointing a new ‘transport officer’ and ‘cycling development officer’.

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