The Scottish Government has confirmed that the concessionary travel scheme will remain unchanged for those 60+. Also under consideration is extending the scheme to provide free bus travel for Modern Apprentices.
Concern grew when opposition politicians raised the fear that the free bus pass for the 60+ age group was to be removed as the result of an extensive Government consultation. This, however, has turned out to be unfounded and not only will the concessionary pass be continued for that age group but it will be enhanced.
A person accompanying eligible disabled children aged under five will also be eligible for free bus travel. It is estimated that this will benefit over 3,000 families.
Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, said:
“The bus pass is a benefit that many people enjoy and use as part of their daily lives and I’m delighted that this government will expand the scheme to include companions of eligible disabled children aged under five.
“The concessionary travel scheme enables independence, accessibility and social inclusivity. We have listened closely to the many respondents who feel that the free bus pass should remain available to all from the age of 60 and concluded that we should not change the age of eligibility.
“We will also continue to explore options to provide free bus travel for Modern Apprentices, while keeping the scheme under review and maintaining a balanced budget.
“At a time when we are investing and encouraging more people to use Scotland’s many excellent bus services, this government will do all it can to ensure as many people as possible consider the many benefits of bus travel. The £250m we spend every year on the bus pass and support for services is a substantial part of this effort.
“It is right that we explore and ensure the sustainability of National Concessionary Travel Scheme and I am grateful to all those who took part in the consultation process and helped inform the future scope of Scotland’s bus pass.”
Kayleigh Thorpe, Head of Campaigns at ENABLE Scotland, said:
“We welcome the announcement extending the right to a companion bus pass to disabled children under the age of 5. This is a change we called for in our response to the consultation.
“The cost of travel can prove a significant burden upon families who may already be under substantial financial pressure with the additional costs of raising a disabled child.
“We are delighted that families of disabled children can now access this support.”
Scotland’s National Entitlement Card
The National Entitlement Card allows you to access various public services and facilities with only one card. You can apply for one at your local council offices if you are 60+. (For Orkney that would be School Place). If you are a young person you should have got one through your school, however you can apply for one (11-26 year olds) on the Young Scot website.
Orkney residents can find out more about the National Entitlement Card here: Concessionary Travel Permanent residents in Orkney are also entitled to two free return ferry journeys to the Scottish Mainland or Shetland per year. There is also an Isles Resident Scheme.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame