Hold up for free travel on Scotland's buses


People under 22 living in Scotland can now travel free on the country’s buses, although only a small percentage of those eligible have the necessary passes.

The scheme is open to children and young people with a new National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot NEC. According to the BBC, many parents and young people have reported problems obtaining these documents.

Transport Scotland said that tens of thousands have already applied and received their card and can now travelling for free, while ‘many more applications are in the pipeline as the programme gears up over the coming weeks’.

Image courtesy of Transport Scotland

It said over 2.3 million people, including everyone over 60 and disabled people and carers, can now benefit from free bus travel in the country.

Transport minister Jenny Gilruth said: ‘Extending free bus travel will make public transport more affordable, and help give many young people wider access to more education, leisure, and work opportunities. It will also support the choice to travel sustainably early in their lives.

‘Increasing bus use will help us achieve our world-leading goal of reducing the number of kilometres travelled by car by 20% by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2045.’

‘It will also support local bus services to recover, as we all emerge from the most recent COVID-19 restrictions.’

The scheme is part of last year's deal, which saw two Scottish Green Party MSPs given ministerial posts while largely backing the SNP government’s road building agenda.

Minister for zero carbon buildings, active travel and tenants’ rights, Patrick Harvie MSP, said: ‘As we work to secure a green recovery from the pandemic, free bus travel will create new opportunities, protect our climate while at the same time reducing financial barriers for young people right across the country.’

Transport Scotland said the scheme is administered in partnership with the Improvement Service, the National Entitlement Card Programme Office and Young Scot and that although the scheme has been opened to all eligible young people to apply since 10 January, messaging since had focused on young people with essential need to travel to apply, ‘aligning with Covid-19 guidance’.

It said that with restrictions now easing, ‘the expectation is that all young people can and will apply and the scheme will be promoted more widely in the coming weeks’.

The BBC reported that the scheme covers about 930,000 people and that as of Sunday (30 January) 117,082 applications had been made. From these, 55,375 had been despatched and 22,184 applications had been. A total of 45,574 applications were ‘still being reviewed’, the BBC said.

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