Three quarters of a million young people could benefit from a Scottish Government proposal to extend free bus travel to residents under 19.
The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on its proposals, which are part of its budget agreement with the Greens, although it is set to miss a deadline of January next year.
Transport Scotland said that over a third of people already benefit from free bus travel in the country but that its proposal meant extending it to 770,000 young people.
Michael Matheson, cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity said: ‘These are hugely exciting proposals for the future of our bus sector and for inspiring future generations to engage with sustainable transport.
‘Free bus travel will help young people under the age of 19 to access education, employment and leisure – particularly those from lower income families.
'What we are proposing will help our young people as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, whilst supporting the vision outlined in our National Transport Strategy for a fairer and more sustainable transport system – reducing inequalities, tackling poverty and promoting opportunity.
'I’m confident that it will support the independence of young people and encourage a greater, long term shift to more sustainable travel – largely by embedding the use of public transport in people’s behaviour from an early age.'
The consultation closes on 7 December. It states: ‘We anticipate that legislation to underpin the scheme would be required to be laid in Parliament in early 2021 and the scheme would come into effect later in 2021.’
However, the budget agreement, published in February, stated: ‘The Scottish Government will undertake work on design and due diligence with a view to introducing such a scheme in January 2021.’