More than half of children missing out on free bus pass, figures reveal

Figures show that over 570,000 Scots aged under 22 have not received a free bus pass six months after the scheme launched.

More than half of children missing out on free bus pass, figures reveal iStock

More than half of young Scots have still not received a free bus pass six months after the flagship scheme was launched, figures obtained by Scottish Labour have revealed.

A Parliamentary question revealed that across Scotland over 570,000 children and young people aged between five and 21 have still not been issued with a pass.

It comes two years after the Scottish Government scheme – which opened for applications in January this year – was announced.

Scottish Labour transport spokesman Neil Bibby has accused the SNP of “congratulating themselves on a job half done” and has called the progress “pitiful”.

He said: “While the SNP and the Greens are busy congratulating themselves on a job half done, most young people still don’t have their pass this summer.

“The school holidays would’ve been the perfect time for young people to make use of their pass to go and explore Scotland and meet up with friends.

“It’s good to see uptake climbing, but this is pitiful progress half a year into this flagship scheme.

“People are still facing too many barriers applying and the hard truth is in huge parts of Scotland there simply aren’t enough buses for the pass to be of much use.

“Labour-run Inverclyde Council has led the way streamlining the application process and the Scottish Government must support other areas to follow suit so we can end the postcode lottery.

“It is time for the SNP-Green government to drop the spin and focus on delivering on this years-old promise so that no more children and young people miss out.

“If this was an exam, the SNP would have failed it.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “We are determined to ensure all children and young people who benefit most from free bus travel don’t miss out. Since January, well over 400,000 young people have joined the scheme and over 15 million journeys have been made. 

“There are a number of different ways to apply, including online or directly with local councils who can also coordinate through schools. We continue to work closely with the Improvement Service, which is ultimately responsible for the NEC scheme, and who continue to make improvements to seek to make it easier to apply while maintaining the integrity of the child safety measures put in place.  

“The Minister for Transport recently wrote to all local authorities asking them to provide assurance that they have put in place suitable processes to allow children, young people and parents/guardians to apply offline through local council services, and to identify whether additional support is required to achieve this.

“In February, we launched the ‘Transport Scot Pass Collect’ app which lets people aged 16-21 collect free bus travel onto their existing NEC or Young Scot NEC, without having to apply for a replacement.”

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