More than 900,000 young Scots will start to benefit from free bus travel in less than three months’ time, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.
The First Minister said using more sustainable forms of travel is vital if Scotland is to achieve its environmental ambitions.
As well as committing to reach net-zero by 2045, the Scottish Government has also set the target of reducing the number of kilometres travelled by car by 20% by 2030.
Providing free bus travel for everyone aged under 22 – a policy agreed with the Scottish Greens – will help encourage more people to use public transport rather than take the car, Sturgeon said.
Around 930,000 people across Scotland will benefit from the policy when it comes into force on January 31 next year.
New research for Transport Scotland shows almost two-thirds (61%) of young Scots agree that access to public transport could play a central role in the fight against climate change.
The First Minister confirmed the start date for the scheme as she and active travel minister Patrick Harvie met school pupils and students at Glasgow Caledonian University to mark youth empowerment day during the COP26 climate change summit which is taking place in the city.
Sturgeon said: “We are committed to giving our young people the very best chances to succeed in life. The extension of free bus travel to all under-22s will improve access to education, leisure and work, while supporting the adoption of sustainable travel behaviours early in their lives.
“COP26 must be a turning point for the world, and action must be taken if we are to ‘keep 1.5C alive’, and governments across the world must act to support this.
“Adopting more sustainable travel behaviour is vital if we are to reach our world-leading goal of reducing the number of kilometres travelled by car by 20% by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2045.”
Harvie, also the Scottish Green co-leader, said the “transformational policy shows that our focus on tackling the climate emergency goes hand in hand with improving lives and tackling inequality”.
The Green politician, who boarded an electric bus with the First Minister, added: “Free bus travel will open up opportunities for young people and ease pressure on family budgets while helping deliver the step-change we need to deliver on our climate commitments.
“Children and young people travelling for free on modern, zero-carbon electric buses is another step towards the fairer, greener Scotland we are committed to building.”
Paul Davies, managing director of bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis said: “Scotland’s under-22s will have a unique opportunity to make sustainable travel choices with free bus travel across the country.
“COP26 is showing that future generations must be at the heart of climate policy and the young person’s free bus travel scheme is an excellent example of forward-looking policy in action.
“With the Scottish Government funding zero-emission buses that are built right here in Scotland, young people can be sure their journeys will not only be smooth, clean and green, but will benefit communities through the skilled jobs, apprenticeship and graduate opportunities underpinned by this investment.”