Transport Scotland’s initiative is set to go live on 31 January, with the application process launched for five- to 21-year-olds living in Scotland interested in receiving a free bus travel card.
Given current public health guidance to reduce contact and mixing, the full marketing launch of the scheme will take place at a later date.
However, Transport Scotland said applications are open now in recognition of the fact that some young people need to travel for essential purposes – for example, as key workers, for education or health and care reasons.
Scotland’s minister for transport, Graeme Dey, said: “We are asking that only those for whom bus travel is essential apply at this time. This will help to minimise pressure on local councils, also impacted by the pandemic, which will be processing applications and responding to queries.
“Public health must always come first. The approach we are taking will enable children, young people and families who will potentially benefit most from free bus travel to access it from the end of January. It will also ensure that when we are able to fully publicise the scheme, we can help bus services recover from the impacts of the pandemic and encourage children and young people to travel sustainably.”
Research commissioned by Transport Scotland in October 2021 revealed nationwide support for the roll out of free bus travel for Scottish young people – with almost two-thirds (61%) of young Scots agreeing that access to public transport will play a central role in the fight against climate change.
Kirsten Urquhart, chief executive (interim) of Young Scot, added: “We are excited about the positive impact that free bus travel will have on the lives of young people.”