Bus scheme travel pass roll-out for under-22s branded a ‘shamble’

Less than 5% of eligible young people in South Lanarkshire have been issued with a free bus pass. 

Bus scheme offering free travel pass to under 22s branded ‘shamble’ by Scottish Labour’s Lynsey Hamilton iStock
Scottish Labour have branded the rollout of the free bus pass scheme a 'shambles'.

Labour councillors are calling for action as under 5% of eligible young people in South Lanarkshire have been issued with their free bus pass. 

Latest figures show that 4.8% of eligible under-22s have received their free bus pass in the region, making it the lowest level of uptake on mainland Scotland. 

Councillor Lynsey Hamilton, education spokesperson for the Labour group, said: “Councils can drive up bus pass applications for young people with co-ordinated action at school level.

“That’s what the Labour council in Inverclyde did and the extraordinary levels of uptake there are testament to their good work. Here in South Lanarkshire, however, uptake levels are lower than anywhere else in mainland Scotland.

 “Young people, including young people in deprived or remote rural areas, are again losing out.

 “The roll-out of the bus pass has been a shambles.

“There have been mixed messages from the very start and councils are under-resourced. That said, it was clear weeks ago that Inverclyde was adopting a different approach and that was highlighted to the council.

“If South Lanarkshire Council had co-ordinated applications at school level then our young people would be in a better position today.

 “Elections are only a few weeks away and Labour are clear that, if we are trusted to lead South Lanarkshire Council, we will improve uptake and seek to replicate Inverclyde’s success here.”

In comparison, Inverclyde have seen an uptake of 50% of eligible people receiving bus passes as of February 14, where the local authority stepped in to help coordinate application through schools.

The number of young people in South Lanarkshire currently eligible is 59,100 – meaning only 2843 young people have received their passes as of February 14. 

In response to these concerns, a spokesperson for South Lanarkshire Council said: “South Lanarkshire Council has given full support to the Scottish Government, NEC Office, Transport Scotland and Improvement Service on the roll out of free bus travel for young people.

“This has included sharing information to promote awareness of eligibility, and the online application process.”