A landmark move by the Scottish Government will see approximately 930,000 young people benefit from free travel from next year
All residents in Scotland under the age of 22 will be eligible for free bus travel from 31 January 2022.
The Scottish Government has confirmed the timetable for the roll out of the scheme, delivered in partnership with the Improvement Service, the National Entitlement Card Programme Office and Young Scot. Legislative changes to allow the scheme to be extended from its original commitment to provide free travel for under-19s will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament this summer.
Approximately 930,000 young people will join the third of Scotland’s population who already benefit from free bus travel through the Older and Disabled Persons Free Bus scheme. Scottish Minister for Transport Graeme 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% 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. Reducing barriers created by transport costs is one really positive action we can take. Our National Transport Strategy commits to a fairer, greener transport system which will reduce inequalities and take action to protect our climate. I’m really pleased to be taking decisive action on both of those points by setting out this timetable to provide free bus travel for all under-22s living in Scotland.”
Dr Sarah Gadsden, Chief Executive of The Improvement Service, added: “The Improvement Service is committed to providing better life chances for all children and young people. It’s a commitment fully reflected in our strategic priorities. We’re honoured to be a delivery partner for the Young Persons’ Travel Scheme. Together with the National Entitlement Card Programme Office, we’re moving at pace to the support the scheme’s roll out, drawing on our experience and expertise from managing the National Entitlement Card Scheme for over 15 years. We’re placing our assets at the disposal of the Young Persons’ Travel Scheme, enhancing them to make the application process as easy as possible, both online and when using traditional channels, and to reduce the administrative burdens on councils.”
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 well-being by making it easier to socialise and to meet with their friends and family. Free travel that is accessed easily by the Young Scot National Entitlement Card will open doors for young people – helping them to explore opportunities that many would previously not have had the financial means or confidence to take part in.”
Free travel for all under-22s will be introduced from 2022 across Scotland, aiming to incentivise youngsters to choose a more eco-friendly mode of transport. JONATHAN WELC