Honiton student to help shape transport policy

17:27 31 March 2014

Gabrielle Ohlsen.

Gabrielle Ohlsen.

Archant

19-year-old chosen to advise National Express on its transport strategy for young people.

A Honiton student has been selected to advise one of the UK’s largest coach operators and help shape its transport policy.

Gabrielle Ohlsen, who is now studying politics, philosophy and law at King’s College in London, will be helping National Express with its new transport strategy for young people.

The 19-year-old is part of the British Youth Council and was selected by National Express for her previous experience advising the Government on transport issues.

In 2012 Gabrielle sat on the Youth Select Committee where she looked specifically at the transport issues faced by young people today.

To date, National Express is the only transport company to have followed up on the Youth Select Committee’s report.

Gabrielle has been asked how the company can improve its services for young people and joined a group of selected young people aged between 16 to 25 to take part in a strategy meeting at the coach company’s headquarters in Birmingham. There she was able to meet with members of the senior management team, including managing director Tom Stables.

She said: “My experience with the Youth Parliament has helped give me a good understanding of the sorts of challenges faced by young people, including those with disabilities, in relation to public transport. It is fantastic to play a role in shaping National Express’s Young Person’s Promise and I hope to put my experience to good use and help improve transport for young people.”

National Express is in the process of drawing up its ‘Young Person’s Promise’ - a five-year plan to support young people - and a key part of this it says is engaging with young people from the start to get their views.

Five specific pledges will underpin the promise, which will be rolled out following feedback later this year. The coach operator is pledging to offer good value, accessible travel for young people as well as employment and work experience opportunities.

The meeting at Birmingham Coach Station was to encourage the young people to scrutinise the National Express promise and advise on areas of strength and weakness and what could be done better.

The young people involved were all given the opportunity to experience coach travel ahead of the meeting.

Tom Stables, the managing director of National Express UK Coach, added: “National Express is synonymous with affordable travel for young people but we are determined to make our services even better and there was only one place to start – by asking young people themselves – and we didn’t want an easy ride.

“The feedback we receive will be invaluable to us in shaping our ‘promise’ and I would like to thank The British Youth Council, including Gabrielle for their important contribution. We look forward to further work with the group as we really shape and fine-tune our strategy over the coming weeks.”

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