'Let kids ride free'
CHILD advocacy group Bravehearts says school students should travel on public transport for free as concern grows about people abusing the "no child left behind" principle adopted after Daniel Morcombe's disappearance.
And Daniel's father Bruce has questioned whether the figures, quoted as high as one in 10 children not paying their fares by exploiting the principle, stacked up or was just "a throwaway line".
Their comments came after Queensland Transport Minister Scott Emerson said the routine fare evading would be among the first issues tackled at a meeting of bus operators, unions and government agencies on Friday.
He said they would also discuss the more than 500 complaints a year made by parents and guardians about children being left at bus stops.
"When children who flatly refuse to pay a fare are telling drivers that their name is Donald Duck then something is terribly wrong," Mr Emerson said.
Bravehearts criminologist and research manager Carol Ronken said children in school uniform should be automatically allowed on buses and should not have to pay.
"That whole incident with Daniel Morcombe has highlighted the dangers of children being left on the side of road," she said.
"We need to ensure our kids aren't left behind and not deserted.
"I think children shouldn't have to pay for public transport to go to school.
"It should be covered for them by our government."
Mr Morcombe said free public transport for students was an option, but he wanted the government to break down the figures first.
"There appears to be a suggestion that one in 10 children currently catching buses are avoiding fares and getting a free ride," he said.
"I want to know if that's a genuine reflection or is it a throwaway line?
"I'm interested in hard statistics and then we can analyse it and work on improving (the numbers).
"It is blurring what I think is tremendous policy and I am sure there are a couple of smarties out there that will take advantage of that, but to suggest one in 10...
"I dispute those figures without having any way of validating them."