Draft legislation will facilitate free bus travel for young people

Matheson: ‘Not only is this good news for young people, it’s good news for bus operators’

The Scottish Government is making preparations to extend free bus travel to all young people under the age of 19 who reside in Scotland.

Once the scheme starts, young people under the age of 19 will join the third of Scotland’s population who already benefit from free bus travel.

The move follows a public consultation over the final three months of 2020 which sought a broad range of views on the matter. Overall these responses were positive.

91% of respondents agreed that the proposal would contribute towards objectives to increase opportunities and reduce inequalities for children and young people. Positive responses focussed on improved access to employment and education opportunities, removing cost of travel as an obstacle, especially for those in low (or no) income households.

Draft legislation has now been laid which, if approved by the Scottish Parliament, will enable arrangements to be put in place for the scheme to start operating as soon as practicable during the financial year 2021/22.

The same legislation will also extend the existing National Concessionary Travel Scheme to eligible disabled children under the age of five, allowing free travel for a companion accompanying them.

“Not only is this good news for young people, it’s good news for bus operators,” said Scottish transport minister Michael Matheson. “They will see increased patronage from future generations, who will be able to freely discover the convenience of sustainable bus travel in accessing education, employment and for leisure.

“The Scottish Government believes in our young people and in public transport. In addition to embedding more sustainable travel behaviour at an earlier age, we’re offering this support to reduce barriers created by transport costs so that our young people can achieve their fullest potential.”

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