Free bus travel scheme for under-22s launches in Scotland

Anyone aged five to 21 is able to apply for free bus travel across Scotland but is required to get a National Entitlement Card.

Free bus travel scheme for under-22s launches in Scotland iStock

Free bus travel is available from Monday to all under-22s in Scotland who have applied for a travel card.

Anyone aged five to 21 is able to apply for free bus travel across Scotland but is required to get a National Entitlement Card (NEC) to do so.

More than 900,000 young people are thought to be eligible for the free travel scheme.

The Scottish Government had faced criticism last month for telling young people only to apply if they needed to make “essential journeys” because of coronavirus guidance.

Scottish Labour branded the scheme a “shambles” and accused the government of mixed messaging on public health.

But officials now say that, with restrictions easing, the scheme “will be promoted more widely in the coming weeks”.

Transport minister Jenny Gilruth said: “I am delighted that from today, thanks to the Scottish Government, every young person under 22 in Scotland with an entitlement card can now travel for free by bus across Scotland.

“Extending free bus travel will make public transport more affordable, and help give many young people wider access to more education, leisure, and work opportunities.

“It will also support the choice to travel sustainably early in their lives.

“Increasing bus use will help us achieve our world-leading goal of reducing the number of kilometres travelled by car by 20% by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2045.

“It will also support local bus services to recover, as we all emerge from the most recent Covid-19 restrictions.

“Please remember that to keep people safe, face coverings are still required on public transport for those aged 12 or older, unless otherwise exempt.”

Active travel minister Patrick Harvie said: “This is an exciting moment for sustainable travel in Scotland.

“Today’s start line for free bus travel to under-22s shows how we can tackle inequality, respond to the climate emergency and improve the lives of young people through decisive government action.

“As we work to secure a green recovery from the pandemic, free bus travel will create new opportunities, protect our climate while at the same time reducing financial barriers for young people right across the country.”