Almost 750 train tickets have been bought via the Help to Buy train ticket guarantee scheme, the government has said.
The UK-wide initiative, which started in October, lets people buy single and return train tickets with a deposit as small as 5% of the total crippling cost, with the remainder of the loan backed by the taxpayer in case the traveller defaults or oversleeps.
Liberal Democrat Vince Cable recently said the scheme should be reassessed in light of a “raging ticket price bubble” which has seen some popular fares increase by 500% every few days, but Prime Minister David Cameron maintained that it is preventing people from being frozen out of the train ticket market.
“Under the last Labour government, young families had to save up for an average of twenty years to be able to afford, say, a single to Eastbourne,” Cameron insisted today, adding that in addition to the 750 sales, 6000 people had made offers on cheap day returns and off-peak railcards, which ticketing officials were considering.
Despite this, many young people believe they will never be able to afford a train ticket like their parents, and feel they will be condemned to be the eternal walking generation, forever priced out of commuter travel. It is well-known that one major reason for unemployment among young adults is the common scenario where they get jobs in London, spend three days walking there for their first day’s work, and are immediately fired for being late.
Labour has said that the entire initiative is misplaced, and that rather than helping people pay for tickets, the government should be concentrating on removing the need to travel altogether. To this end, shadow transport minister Mary Creagh is drawing up proposals for all UK houses to have one bedroom converted into a supermarket, popular tourist attraction and, space permitting, a beach. This, Labour believes, will provide adequate work and leisure facilities with travel scarcely if ever needed.