Young Londoners applying for a Zip Oyster photocard, which allows school age children free travel on the capital’s bus and tram networks, will have to pay a £10 “application fee” from September 1st.
Transport for London say the charge will cover costs incurred in “processing application forms, photocard production and postage” and insist the scheme, which also offers discounted Tube travel, remains “one of the most generous concessionary travel schemes in the country.”
News of the fee, expected to raise up to £5m for TfL, comes as Mayor of London Boris Johnson is expected to announce an increase in fares from January 2011 to meet TfL’s funding shortages.
Mayor Johnson has faced repeated criticism for going ahead with plans to abolish the Congestion Charge Western Extension, forfeiting £55m of revenue based on TfL’s own figures, despite already presiding over two fare increases since he came to office in 2008.
Shashi Verma, TfL’s Director of Fares and Ticketing, said: “The £10 application fee being brought in will help to cover the administrative costs associated with providing the various concession schemes and still represents fantastic value for money considering it would be recouped for many in only one school week of bus use. We also hope the fee will help increase the sense of responsibility that users have for their cards.”
The £5 admin fee for 18+ Student Oyster photocards, which gives reduced fares to those in further education, will increase £5 to £10 from September.
Commenting on the changes, Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson Caroline Pidgeon said: “I understand that TfL have to look at cost savings but any change needs to be fair. Given that two fifths of children across London live in poverty TfL should exempt this charge to children and young people who are entitled to free school meals.:”