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Free bus travel for under-22s from next year

New Lothian bus - Alexander Dennis

Encouraging use of public transport is part of eco-agenda

Free bus travel to Scottish residents is being extended to all those under the age of 22 from the end of January next year.

The Scottish Government says the move, which was agreed in March, will mean almost a million young people will join a third of the population who already benefit from concessionary fares.

The scheme will come into effect from 31 January and will be delivered in partnership with the Improvement Service, the National Entitlement Card Programme Office and Young Scot.

Legislative changes to allow the scheme to be extended from its original commitment to provide free travel for under-19s will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament this summer.

Minister for Transport, Graeme Dey said: “It’s crucial to embed more sustainable travel behaviour from a young age if we are to 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.

“We also know that young people have been disproportionately impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s never been more important that we support them to achieve their fullest potential.

“Reducing barriers created by transport costs is one really positive action we can take.

“Our National Transport Strategy commits to a fairer, greener transport system which will reduce inequalities and take action to protect our climate. I’m really pleased to be taking decisive action on both of those points by setting out this timetable to provide free bus travel for all under-22s living in Scotland.”

Background

In February 2020, the Scottish Government committed to extend free bus travel to young people aged under 19. Work was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic but restarted with a public consultation launched in October 2020.

Following the consultation, the Scottish Government committed to launch free bus for under-19s as soon as practicable in the financial year 2021-22 and laid a draft SSI to create a new young persons’ bus concession scheme on 21 January 2021.

In March this year, the Scottish Government agreed to extend the new scheme to include 19-21 year olds and committed to make as much progress towards this as possible during 2021-22. A new SSI is required to amend the under-19s scheme to extend it to 19-21 year-olds.

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