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by Staff reporter
27 July 2021
Free bus travel for young people from January

Holyrood

Free bus travel for young people from January

Scots under 22 will be able to travel on buses for free from the end of January.

The plan will see approximately 930,000 more people covered by the concessionary travel scheme, which already benefits older and disabled people.

Legislation laid at the Scottish Parliament earlier this year planned to extended the scheme to all under 19s.

This has now been extended further to include 19 to 21-year-olds.

Transport minister Graeme Dey said the scheme would help tackle inequalities and climate change.

Dey said: “It’s crucial to embed more sustainable travel behaviour from a young age if we are to achieve our world-leading goal of reducing the number of kilometres travelled by car by 20 per cent by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2045.

“We also know that young people have been disproportionately impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s never been more important that we support them to achieve their fullest potential.”

Young people will be able to access free bus travel via the Young Scot National Entitlement Card.

Kirsten Urquhart, interim chief executive of Young Scot said: “Young people often tell us about the positive impact free travel would have on their lives. For some, it'll help them to travel to work or take part in learning. For others, it'll improve their wellbeing by making it easier to socialise and to meet with their friends and family.”

Free bus travel was agreed as part of the SNP-Green budget deal in 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic.

It will now come into force from 31 January 2022.

Scottish Labour criticised the "slow progress" of the scheme and called for the scheme to be extended to all under 25s.

Transport spokesperson Neil Bibby said: "Across Scotland routes have been slashed and passenger numbers are plummeting. Scotland’s broken bus market is failing our young people. Not only should government make bus travel affordable, it should also make sure there is a reliable bus network for young people to use these new passes on."

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said: "As we recover from the pandemic, this policy will be vital in encouraging people back onto public transport safely to ensure we have a green recovery. The Scottish Greens believe public transport should be free at the point of use and serve all our communities, and January will see a major step forward to this aim."

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