Consultation on free bus travel for people resident in Scotland aged under 19

Page 1 of 13

Closes 7 Dec 2020

Free bus travel for people resident in Scotland aged under 19: our proposal

The Scottish Government’s National Transport Strategy, published in February 2020, set out our vision for a transport system that:

  • reduces inequalities and advances equality of opportunity and outcome
  • takes climate action to minimise the long-term impacts of transport on our climate
  • delivers sustainable and inclusive economic growth
  • enables a healthy, active and fit nation

The Scottish Government aims to make travel as accessible and affordable as possible. To  this end, we offer a range of concessionary travel schemes for young Scots,  over 60s and eligible disabled people. Further details on these national schemes are available on the Transport Scotland website.

We now intend to extend this provision by offering free bus travel to people resident in Scotland aged under 19, delivering on our commitment in the 2020 Programme for Government. This policy will be integral to realising the National Transport Strategy vision. Free bus travel will help under 19s access education, employment and leisure, particularly for low income families. It will also increase young peoples' independence and encourages a greater, long term shift to more sustainable travel by embedding the use of public transport in people’s behaviour from an early age.

Extending free bus travel to all people resident in Scotland aged under 19 – approximately 770,000 young people – may also encourage families to use cars less for a range of activities such as travel to school and transport to leisure activities. This mode shift to low-emission and lower carbon public transport is central to tackling the climate emergency and likely to improve air quality in our towns and cities by reducing the number of car journeys.

To minimise additional burdens on bus operators, Local Authorities and other key stakeholders we intend to base the under 19 free bus travel scheme on the administrative processes that underpin the current National Bus Travel Concession Scheme for Older and Disabled Persons. The details of this scheme can be found at: https://www.transport.gov.scot/concessionary-travel/60plus-or-disabled/#37404. The new scheme would replace for under 19s the bus element of the current non-statutory Young People’s Scheme. That scheme would continue to operate for full time volunteers aged between 19 and 25 who volunteer for more than 30 hours a week, and to provide discounted rail and, as appropriate, ferry travel for those who qualify for it.

There are still choices about how such a scheme is designed and rolled out to ensure it is as effective and accessible as possible. We provide further information on these areas in this consultation, the options available in implementing free bus travel for under 19s and how we can mitigate any risks.