Scottish Transport Minister Humza Yousaf has launched a consultation on the future of the national concessionary travel scheme.
The Scottish Government said it wants to hear views on the options to safeguard the longer term sustainability of the existing free bus travel scheme and on providing free bus travel to young modern apprentices to support their travel costs. The plans to provide young modern apprentices with free bus travel will initially be tested in a pilot scheme in 2018.
The concessionary travel consultation will be available via the Transport Scotland website until November 17, 2017.
Humza Yousaf said: “The Scottish Government is committed to providing free bus travel to older and disabled people and no one who has a bus pass will lose it.
“This popular scheme provides free travel throughout Scotland and in doing so access to services, facilities and social networks locally and further afield. It promotes a more active lifestyle thus improving health and is helping older and disabled people to be independent, socially active and generally helps them play a greater part in their community.
“People are living longer, staying healthy longer, and staying in work later in life and we aim to ensure that access to the benefits of the bus pass goes to those who have greater reliance on free bus travel. We keep the Scheme under review to ensure that it continues to meet this objective and, as part of this process, the consultation gives us the opportunity to find out how the people of Scotland see the future of the scheme.
“We will listen carefully to the views given in the consultation and take account of them in deciding whether any changes need to be made to the scheme at this time. If we then decide that changes are to be made, I can confirm that everyone who already has a bus pass before any changes come into force will continue to have access to the benefits of the scheme.
“We want to help ease the transition into work for younger people in Scotland, especially those on lower incomes and that is why we are looking to introduce free travel for modern apprentices.
“Other than looking to provide free companion travel for eligible disabled children under five who are not currently covered by the scheme, we have no plans to change the current disability criteria. Those people eligible as a result of disability will continue to access free bus travel, as now.”
Skills Development Scotland Director of National Training Programmes, Katie Hutton, said: “Each year more and more individuals are choosing to start apprenticeships to work, learn and earn making a valuable contribution to businesses and the economy.
“Skills Development Scotland supports the concessionary travel consultation and we would encourage all those with a shared interest in the success of apprenticeships to get involved.”