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London: Teenagers will have to "stand up for their elders" on public transport — or risk losing their right to free travel.
London Mayor Boris Johnson was expected to unveil plans yesterday to make youngsters sign a "courtesy pledge" to promise to behave in a respectful manner when travelling in the capital.
The three-point pledge states that they will give up their seats to the elderly, pregnant and disabled; refrain from using offensive or threatening language; and be courteous and polite to fellow passengers and staff.
Those who refuse, or are caught behaving in a loutish manner, will have their free travel passes removed.
The plan — a key part of Johnson's re-election bid — will initially affect the 400,000 11- to 15-year-olds in London who qualify for free travel cards, but Tory sources believe the idea could be used across the country.
A Conservative insider said: "The initiative chimes perfectly with the push to create a Big Society. It is about changing culture and expectations around behaviour to improve the atmosphere on buses and trains for everyone."
Speaking before yesterday's launch, Johnson said he was determined to tackle the anti-social behaviour of a "minority of youngsters" on public transport.
"When I was a boy, I was taught to stand up for those less able to," he said. "Youngsters enjoy the privilege of free travel, which is paid for by Londoners, but they have to understand that with that privilege comes responsibility. Anyone who abuses this privilege will have it taken away, and will have to earn that right back."
Teenagers found guilty of a serious breach of the new behaviour code will lose their travel passes, and will have to carry out unpaid community work to have them restored. Johnson is also introducing a "two strikes and you're out" policy to deal with repeat offenders, under which those committing a second serious breach of the code will lose their travel rights permanently.
City Hall sources said the plan would cost taxpayers nothing, as the pledge would be incorporated into the existing application process for youngsters' free travel passes.
The move follows an earlier initiative of Johnson's that banned the consumption of alcohol on public transport in the capital, which is credited with helping to drive down crime rates on buses and trains.