Free bus travel in Scotland for resident under-22s will begin on 31 January. It will capture all registered services in the country including applicable long-distance scheduled coach routes, Transport for Scotland (TS) has confirmed.
Applications for the necessary entitlement card opened on 10 January, although for now TS is encouraging only those young people who have an essential need to travel to apply. The launch is thus a ‘soft’ one and wider publicity will follow later.
It is estimated that around 930,000 under-22s in Scotland will be eligible for free bus travel, in addition to the one-third of the country’s population that already receive the same benefit through other concessionary policies.
The new scheme will operate with an objective to leave operators no better off nor no worse off, although that earlier attracted concern from some operators in responses to a consultation. Reimbursement will take account of an adult single fare to a value agreed between the operator and the Scottish Government.
Not part of the scheme are services that run at night at a premium fare, excursions, journeys that include a special amenity element and those that “are difficult to align with routine services and fare structures.” A compulsory participation may be served if an operator seeks to withdraw from the mechanism.