South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy & Transport & Rural Affairs Colin Smyth has once again urged young people to sign up for the new young person’s bus pass scheme, after it was revealed only a small fraction of those eligible actually have a card.
The flagship scheme, first promised back in February 2020, launched in January this year.
However, it was mired in confusion, with applicants facing a lengthy application process and the Transport Minister actively discouraging applications.
Figures released by the Scottish Government through a parliamentary question asked by Colin Smyth’s Scottish Labour colleague Neil Bibby, show a breakdown of those eligible and those who have actually received their card.
Colin Smyth said: “I am once again urging as many eligible local young people as possible to sign up to this scheme.
“The roll-out of the free bus pass should have been a good news story for young people but it has been beset with problems, from mixed messages on public health to a complicated application process.
“These figures show that across the south of Scotland, very few young people have received a card, it’s time for the Scottish Government to work with schools to maximise uptake.
“Every child and young person should have the chance to make the most of free bus travel. The new pass can help young people connect with the communities around them and access education, training or work. Young people shouldn’t face barriers to applying.
“The roll out of free travel for young people has been half hearted by the Government, they need to get their act together so every eligible child and young person in Scotland can benefit.”
“The Improvement Service (IS), who manage the application process, have informed us that at close of business on 1 March 2022 a total of 144,377 cards had been produced and despatched.
The latest figures that IS have provided broken down to a local council level are from close of business on 14 February 2022 and can be found in the following table.
|Dumfries & Galloway Council||1,973|
|East Ayrshire Council||4,838|
|East Lothian Council||2,336|
|Mid Lothian Council||1,837|
|Scottish Borders Council||2,722|
|South Ayrshire Council||1,106|
|South Lanarkshire Council||2,840|
“Up to 930,000 young people aged between 5 and 21 will be eligible for the Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme. This is in addition to almost 60,000 young people in this age group who already hold National Entitlement Cards providing access to the existing Free Bus Travel Scheme for Older and Disabled Persons. The following table provides population estimates calculated by Transport Scotland on the basis of data published by National Records of Scotland.
|Dumfries & Galloway Council||25,100|
|East Ayrshire Council||22,400|
|East Lothian Council||20,900|
|Mid Lothian Council||18,600|
|Scottish Borders Council||20,400|
|South Ayrshire Council||19,100|
|South Lanarkshire Council||59,100|
% of young people
|Dumfries & Galloway Council||7.8%|
|East Ayrshire Council||21.1%|
|East Lothian Council||11.1%|
|Mid Lothian Council||9.8%|
|Scottish Borders Council||13.3%|
|South Ayrshire Council||5.7%|
|South Lanarkshire Council||4.8%|