Free bus pass age to stay at 60, Scottish Government confirms
The National Concessionary Travel Scheme will also be expanded to families with disabled children under five
Buses in Glasgow - Image credit: Chris DiGiamo via Flickr
Sixty-year-olds in Scotland will still be eligible for a free bus pass, the Scottish Government has confirmed.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson announced that the age of eligibility will not change for the National Concessionary Travel Scheme.
The Scottish Government had been considering raising the age of eligibility in line with the age or retirement.
In addition, it will be expanded to companions of eligible disabled children aged under five, which could result in more than 3,000 more families and children benefitting from the free bus pass.
The Scottish Government is also considering whether to provide free bus travel for modern apprentices.
A consultation on changes to the scheme closed in November 2017, with nearly 3000 responses received from people and organisations all across Scotland.
Two-thirds of those who responded said that that the free bus pass should stay available from the age of 60.
A similar proportion of respondents felt that Modern Apprentices should benefit from free bus travel, and the majority were in favour of providing companion cards for eligible disabled children aged under five.
Matheson said: “The bus pass is a benefit that many people enjoy and use as part of their daily lives and I’m delighted that this government will expand the scheme to include companions of eligible disabled children aged under five.
“The concessionary travel scheme enables independence, accessibility and social inclusivity.
“We have listened closely to the many respondents who feel that the free bus pass should remain available to all from the age of 60 and concluded that we should not change the age of eligibility.
“We will also continue to explore options to provide free bus travel for Modern Apprentices, while keeping the scheme under review and maintaining a balanced budget.
“At a time when we are investing and encouraging more people to use Scotland’s many excellent bus services, this government will do all it can to ensure as many people as possible consider the many benefits of bus travel.
“The £250m we spend every year on the bus pass and support for services is a substantial part of this effort.”
Labour Connectivity spokesperson Colin Smyth said: “This is a welcome U-turn from the SNP government, after months of uncertainty over the future of the bus pass.
“The free bus pass for over 60s was one of many great achievements of Scottish Labour governments.
“That is why Labour pledged to table amendments to the Transport Bill to enshrine the qualifying age of 60 for the bus pass for older people into law.
"It is clear the SNP would have lost a vote on this and been forced to ditch any move to increase the qualifying age to 65.
“Labour will still table the amendments and I hope now the SNP backs our plans to explicitly write into law the qualifying age of 60 to give it increased protection.
"Labour also wants to see free bus travel extended to others including modern apprentices and companions traveling with disabled children.
“We therefore welcome the commitment to provide companion cards for disabled children under 5, but it is disappointing the government have simply said it will just work towards free bus travel for modern apprentices, but have failed to give a clear timescale.
“It is a year since they started consulting on this issue and should get on with it.
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