Free travel for young people on Edinburgh's trams could be scrapped

Young people, disabled people and those over 60 can currently ride the tram network for free with an entitlement card.

Free travel for young people under 22 on Edinburgh’s trams could be scrapped in new council plans STV News

Free travel on Edinburgh’s trams for young people could be scrapped.

The City of Edinburgh Council are due to consider proposals that would see an end to free travel for young people under the age of 22 on the city’s tram network.

From January this year, free tram travel has been offered to those under 22 who hold a National Entitlement or Young Scot card issued by the council.

This policy replicated the Scottish Government’s Young Persons’ (Under 22s) Free Bus Travel Scheme which came into force across Scotland.

Current young people are entitled to the same free travel on the tram network as older people over the age of 60 and disabled people.

However, in a report set to go before The City of Edinburgh Council’s transport and environment committee on Thursday, officers have recommended and end to free travel for young people on the tram, as a result of rising numbers of passengers.

The cost for free tram travel for under 22s has cost £109,000 between January 31 and August 13 this year.

It is estimated that the continuation of the policy would cost the council around £25,000 per month.

However, this figure is expected to rise as a result of more people signing up for entitlement cards and expansion of the tram service with the opening of a line to Newhaven.

It’s estimated the rising numbers could cost the council £304,000.

The council currently faces the need to make £63m of cuts in next year’s budget.

As a result, officers have recommended that Edinburgh Trams does not continue to replicate the free bus travel scheme for young people on its network in 2023.

If councillors vote in favour of the proposal, it would see an end to free travel for young people by March 31, next year.

However, residents who are over 60s or disabled will still be entitled to free tram and bus travel in the city with £500,000 per annum has been set aside by the council to accommodate this policy.

The report reads: “While recognising the challenges which applying different concessionary arrangements on bus and tram presents, Council officers recommend not replicating the Scottish Government’s Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel scheme on Edinburgh Trams at this time.”

Labour convenor of the transport and environment committee, Cllr Scott Arthur called for the Scottish Government to support the council with funding for free tram travel.

He said: “The decision regarding continuing to support free travel on Edinburgh’s tram service for those under 22-years-old will be a key part of the February 2023 cross-party budget discussions. I look forward to working with Councillors of all parties on this, and other progressive policies.

“I remain disappointed, however, that the SNP/Green Government refuses to fund tram travel for under 22s and over 60s in the same way as it does for buses. This intransigence means that Edinburgh is being penalised for investing in a travel mode which is key to our aspiration to tackle climate change and cut congestion.”

STV News have contacted The City of Edinburgh Council for comment.

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