Scots aged under 22 are being promised free access to bus travel across the country from January of next year.
The Scottish government recently committed to legally extending free bus travel to anyone under the age of 19 but the policy has now been revisited and will soon be adjusted to incorporate everyone up to the age of 22.
Older and disabled people are already entitled to claim free bus access across Scotland and the policy is set to extend that same privilege to young people nationwide.
The government’s stated aims in offering free bus travel to younger people are firstly to help them get around more freely as Scotland emerges from the pandemic and, secondly, to contribute towards reducing the country’s collective carbon footprint.
Graeme Dey, transport minister, has explained that the government wants to “embed more sustainable travel behaviour from a young age”, with the ultimate aim being to reduce the number of miles driven by cars across Scotland by 20 per cent by 2030.
Mr Dey also said that young people have been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 crisis and said helping them access local transport links for free will hopefully support them to “achieve their fullest potential”.
“Reducing barriers created by transport costs is one really positive action we can take,” he said.
“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.”
Scottish Greens MSPs have been among those calling for free bus access to be extended to young people and the party’s co-leader Patrick Harvie welcomed the news that those policies are now in the pipeline.
“Free bus travel for young people is not only a transformational policy in terms of family budgets and opening up opportunities for young people, it can help shift people out of car use and help tackle the climate emergency,” Mr Harvie said in a statement.
“What’s more, as we recover from the pandemic, this policy will be vital in encouraging people back onto public transport safely to ensure we have a green recovery,” he added.
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