Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance Kate Forbes has reached an agreement with the Scottish Green Party to ensure passage of the Scottish Government’s budget at all stages in parliament, as part of which the Scottish Government has promised deliver a National Concessionary Travel scheme offering free bus travel for 18s and under. The Scottish Government will undertake work on design and due diligence with a view to introducing such a scheme in January 2021.
In addition, the budget recognises the importance of maintaining the concessionary fares policy to ensure some of the most vulnerable citizens benefit from bus travel, helping to reduce social isolation and improve physical and mental health and wellbeing. Bus travel, it says, has a key role to play in de-carbonising transport and cutting transport emissions and in connecting communities and enabling employment.
With regard to bus travel, the Scottish Parliament says that in 2020-21, it will:
- Continue to provide concessionary travel for older and eligible disabled people;
- Introduce companion cards for eligible disabled children aged under 5;
- Extend concessionary travel to recipients of the young carer grant;
- Begin rolling out investment of over £500m in bus priority infrastructure to tackle the negative impact of congestion on bus services, improve bus journey times and raise bus usage;
- Progress the bus aspects of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019, working with local transport authorities and others to give a wider range of options to improve bus services across Scotland;
- Continue to support bus services and the use of greener, less-polluting vehicles;
- Support public transport operators and local government with smart ticketing and payment services and promotion to encourage increased use of public transport;
- Deliver round two of the £2m challenge fund to support the testing of Mobility as a Service in Scotland, facilitating growth and innovative digital solutions; and
- Continue to implement Scotland’s Accessible Travel Framework, working towards its ambition of having a fully accessible public transport system that enables disabled people to travel with the same freedom, choice, dignity and opportunity as all other citizens.