Youth fare faces possible elimination by the Civil Aeronautics Board next month.
Unless the CAB overturns a Hearing Examiner's decision, all forms of youth fare, including the standby half-fare are reserved-seat two-thirds fare will be eliminated. Passengers between 12 and 21 will then have to pay full fare. Reduced fare for military and clergy as well as the half-fare reservation system for passengers between 2 and 12 would be retained.
Examiner Arthur S. Present calls for doing away with youth fare in his January 21 decision on the grounds that it is "unjustly discriminatory" against those who are not in the 12 to 21 age bracket.
Bus Companies Opposed
Opposition to youth fare began soon after it was instituted in January 1966. Several bus companies issued complaints to the CAB, which dismissed them. The Transcontinental Bus System, Inc. and other bus companies in the Trailways system petitioned the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to review the Board's orders.
The court reversed the Board's decision to allow youth fare and sent the case back to the CAB for further hearings. Present's decision to eliminate youth fare was the outcome of the proceedings.
Subsequently, the Board issued an order to review Present's decision. If the Board upholds the decision when it meets next month, youth fare will be dropped within 30 days.
Several airlines are presently attempting to prevent the CAB's upholding the decision by filing briefs and by presenting oral arguments before the Board. A date has not been set for the Board's March meeting.
Rep. Arnold Olsen (D.Mont.), the leading Congressional opponent of the decision, charged that it would "encourage thousands of young people to resume the illegal and dangerous practice of hitchhiking or to attempt long, exhausting automobile trips, frequently in unsafe vehicles."
In a letter to CAB Chairman John H. Crooker, Olsen asked that the ruling be reviewed and rescinded. A press spokesman for Rep. Olsen said that if the CAB upholds the decision he can introduce legislation overturning the Board's action.
Olsen said that Present's decision "failed to combine prudence and justice, the compatible format necessary to formulate any dictate of society, according to Oliver Wendell Holmes."
Seats Go Empty
"I fail to see how permitting a young person to fly half-fare on a seat that would otherwise go empty discriminates against regular passengers," he added.
Olsen argued if the standby system were eliminated, the revenue loss could mean increased fares for all passengers. He noted that youth fare contributes to the cause of education.
Olsen asserted that youth fares are "a bright spot in a world that generally discriminates against young people."
Olsen pointed out that "persons under 21 cannot vote, persons under 25 cannot serve in Congress; persons under 62 cannot receive Social Security retirement benefits; persons under 35 cannot be President of the United States; persons over 21 cannot enter our military academies; and persons over 18 cannot serve as pages in the U.S. Congress." He added that "in each of these cases, there is some age discrimination"
A press spokesman for Olsen said that the congressman has written to the editors of the newspapers of every college of over 3000 students to find support for his efforts to prevent the elimination of youth fare. He said that all editorials would be published in the Congressional Record to bring the issue to the attention of Congress.
He called upon the Congress and the nation's young people to help him in his opposition to the decision.