Over 50 million free bus journeys have been made since the Scottish Government introduced free bus travel for under 22s over a year ago, it has reported.
The Scottish Government’s concessionary bus travel schemes are the most generous in the UK, with over 2 million people across Scotland now eligible for free bus travel. Everyone in Scotland under the age of 22, everyone 60 and over, and disabled people and companions can benefit from free bus travel.
To mark this milestone, Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth and Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights Patrick Harvie will attend the Sighthill campus of Edinburgh College to hear the experiences of young people benefitting from the scheme. Barnardo’s Scotland also joined to explain how they are promoting the benefits of the scheme to young people that they support and ensure as many people as possible, regardless of background, can access the benefits of the scheme.
Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth said: “It’s really encouraging that over 50 million free bus journeys have now been made by under 22s across Scotland. This policy is a game changer for our young people – and I’m looking forward to hearing about how free bus travel is giving them more independence, confidence and flexibility in how they access services, including educational opportunities at Edinburgh College. Edinburgh in particular enjoys a high uptake with over 71,000 young people, equating to 89% of those eligible, registered for free bus travel.
“I’m grateful to all our partners and local authorities for helping to encourage as many young people as possible to take advantage of this vital policy, particularly during the ongoing cost of living crisis. Indeed, evidence from the Child Poverty Action Group has shown that free bus travel can save a total of £3,000 in the lifetime cost of a child in Scotland.
“The Scottish Government will continue to promote the scheme, building on our partnerships created during the roll out of free bus for under 22s.”
Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights Patrick Harvie said: “50 million free journeys made by under 22s is a big landmark and part of an even bigger effort to promote public transport and walking, wheeling and cycling as the easiest ways get around.
“As we look ahead to the next 50 million journeys, I want to make sure that every young person takes up the benefit of free bus travel. The work that Barnardo’s Scotland and other partners have undertaken shows how this can be done.
“It’s equally heartening to hear of bus operators who are benefiting from greater levels of use from young people – helping to increase demand and make routes more viable. That makes the scheme a win-win for all passengers.”
Martin Crewe, Director for Barnardo’s Scotland said: “The free bus travel scheme for under 22s has created a wealth of new opportunities for young people to access education, work, training and leisure activities, with more young people using bus services as a result.
“Following feedback provided by Barnardo’s Scotland during consultation around the scheme, Transport Scotland had reached out to us to create a bespoke training package on child safeguarding for bus drivers across Scotland. Through training in general safeguarding and the signs of exploitation, Barnardo’s Scotland has helped to give bus drivers the confidence to recognise risks to young passengers’ safety and provided them with the knowledge of what to do and who to speak to if they have any concerns.
“I hope that many more young people can benefit from this fantastic scheme and do so with confidence by following the safe travel guidance at freebus.scot.”