Apologies and Update
It is with regret that I announce a postponement of the Inaugural Campaign for Free Public Transport conference, due to take place in Birmingham on Saturday the 16th of October. While the Campaign has seen some great steps taken in the last six months, as I detail below, the support we have gained has not yet been converted into firm commitments for funding and the core activists from Greater Manchester do not have the resources to cover the expense of hiring a conference venue and the promotional material required. Nevertheless, two large unions representing hundred of thousands of individuals (Unite and the PCS) have passed motions at their national policy conferences supporting the principles behind free public transport and the importance of supporting those free public transport schemes (over60s and U18s – in London – concessionary passes) already in existence.
We believe the Campaign remains an important opportunity to increase public awareness about the way transport impacts upon everyday life and as similar policy motions move through other trade union bodies, and as positive discussions with the Green Party continue and progressive transport activists more generally coalesce around broad aims of resisting further cuts to public transport, continued promotion of urban sprawl (leading to differential impacts borne most heavily by those most excluded in our society), that the enthusiasm the Campaign has generated will be converted into funding to expand our activities and to reschedule the inaugural conference to 2011.
Publication: ‘Evidence and Debates around Free Public Transport’
That said, I can only extend my sincerest apologies to those of you who had agreed to give papers or had made arrangements for travel. As a way of maintaining debate around the more progressive possibilities for UK transport and urban planning (with consideration to social justice and the environment) and so that the excellent research that many of you had agreed to discuss can be presented to a much wider audience, I would like to invite everyone to contribute an article to some form of publication. As to the format, I would be interested in hearing back from potential authors. It should not be a problem to negotiate a book deal with a small independent academic publisher (e.g. LAP Lambert or CSP). Alternatively, I have contacts to activist presses that would be able to produce a publication at a much lower RRP and in much greater quantities but would be looking for outputs to be more accessible and shorter than standard academic articles. I would be happy to receive any thoughts or comments.
A short video on Free Public Transport in London by Tiger Monkey UK
Another of the more positive developments for the Campaign has been the growth in affiliated groups across the country (Birmingham, Greater Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol, the Isle of Wight, Cambridgeshire, Scotland). Activists from Bristol have been working with a drama group in London to produce a short film exploring young people’s experience of free bus transport, which you can view at the following link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaX_cCa8RNY (‘Free Me Campaign Film’)
My apologies once again for the postponement (and the length of the email) and I thank you for your continuing support.
Free Public Transport Research Coordinator