Saturday, 9 October 2021

Free transport for school children?

There is a call for this in today's paper and I know there will be support for it from many parents. 

It was tried once before. It was abandoned.

People seem to have forgotten what happened when they tried it. Put simply there were too many children on the move and out of control. No, they were not necessarily truanting in great numbers - although the free transport certainly helped some to skive off  for days at a time. What was happening was something quite different. 

What was happening was that gangs of children and young teens were moving into other areas. It was almost as if they were deciding among themselves who would get what area of the city to vandalise. They would conduct their nefarious activities outside the area they lived in so they would not be recognised. 

A lot of this was petty theft, shoplifting (often food), and graffiti games. These were "bored" youngsters who got a thrill from engaging in minor criminal conduct.

I doubt I will ever forget the day I was heading for a train in the main railway station in the city. I was nearly knocked over - did stumble but was righted by someone else - as a young boy ran past me. He was holding an ice cream cone in his hand. Not far away from him, just in front of the old kiosk which sold such things, was another child in tears. The second child had Down Syndrome. He had, for the first time in his life, independently asked for and then paid for his own ice cream cone.  He was devastated. His mother was distraught. The two policemen who had, for once, been passing could do nothing. The other child was an indigenous child who was obviously truanting from school for the day. He had gone to the top of the stairs and was taunting everyone between licks of ice cream - and then he simply disappeared. 

That incident alone (and yes, I did buy the other child another cone - or rather, after consulting with his mother, I gave him the money to buy it for himself ) was enough to make me think free transport for children was not a good idea.

I know the railway staff were not happy with the idea. It caused issues for them. Unaccompanied children on public transport are a safety risk, particularly if they are "high" on the idea of just being able to get on any bus or train without a ticket.

If people don't have to pay for a service they are less likely to appreciate it. Transport to get to and from school should be cheap but it should be paid for and children should have to be able to produce a ticket or a pass. It is good training for later in life.

There is free transport between certain hours for seniors in this state and I know someone will say, "Well why that and not for children?" My answer to that is that seniors have generally earned it. They have worked. They have paid taxes. There are good reasons to do it. It means people can afford to go out which is good for their mental and physical well being. It means that some people will stop using their cars when they should no longer be driving."  

In other words it is not the same issue at all. Children should not be taught to expect something for nothing.  


jeanfromcornwall said...

In the bits of Upover that I know about, there is need for transport for schoolchildren, because Public is so iffy especially in rural areas. So there are networks of buses that take them in in the morning and bring them home. Free but there is a distance limit, so that those living near enough to walk it have to do so. They may have the opportunity to use Public, but have to pay. So that keeps the majority of the young ones out of the general public system. It seems to work well enough as far as I have seen.
Back when I was a teenager, I had a Bus Pass, but it was only valid for the busses going to in the morning, and home at night. Nowhere else, and not at weekends, even though I might have to go in for some special event.

catdownunder said...

Yes, we have school buses here too - for rural students. The Senior Cat had a school where there were eleven different rural routes (for a school that then had more than 600 children from 5 to 16). They were driven by the teachers - one route started at 7am and finished at around 5pm - and they were all on unsealed roads.
Most urban students are taken to school by their parents, some older students have their own cars, and some get buses, trains or the tram - but they are mostly in the secondary schools.