Axing free travel for under-18s will lead to children missing school and be “petrifying” for parents experiencing financial hardship, the chair of Lewisham Council’s young advisors board has said.

Depending on their age, children are currently entitled to Oyster cards which give them free or cut price travel.

As a condition to the £1.6 billion bailout of Transport for London, the Government will suspend free travel for under-18s.

Another condition means that over-60s will no longer be able to use their Freedom Passes to get free travel on TfL services at peak times from June 15.

According to the Government, these changes will be temporary.

Lewisham’s young advisors board chair, Joshua Brown-Smith, whose petition demanding a U-turn received nearly 60,000 signatures in two weeks, said there will be “many consequences” for parents and young people.

“The financial hardship that parents will undergo with this suspension will be petrifying because most parents have been furloughed and are facing greater financial hardship.

“Young people will miss important parts of the school day because they are trying to find money for their bus fare or pleading to the bus driver to let them on the bus – the decision that has been made by the government is totally wrong and they need to think of young people.

“If young people can’t get to school, there will be truancy and running the streets of London. Parents will be worrying about where their children are.

“The UK Government has rolled out millions of pounds to fund these initiatives to minimize the negative impacts on the said cohorts and then taking away the bus passes negates a positive outcome,” he said.

The Mayor of London has also urged the Government to rethink the decision as it will “hit the poorest hardest”.

The Government say the decision was made to tackle the spread of the virus and to ease pressure on TfL.

“The terms of the government’s £1.6 billion funding package for TfL were agreed upon by the Deputy Mayor for Transport and the Mayor of London.

“The decision was agreed on under-18 free travel to tackle the spread of the virus and reduce pressure on the transport network.

“As part of the deal, the concession for children eligible for free home to school travel will continue.

“We look forward to seeing TfL’s operational plan by 10 June, ” a DfT spokesperson said.