For thousands of young people and their families, free bus travel will be a huge boost. It will open-up the country, while helping them to travel to work, school, or higher education, and to visit friends and family.
It is a positive and transformative change that will be good for people and the planet. Some families will save hundreds of pounds while helping to reduce pollution and cut carbon emissions.
The scheme requires young people to register for a new National Entitlement Card (also known as Young Scot Card). Older cards will not work, so registration is essential. It takes around 15 minutes to do, with young people under 16 requiring an adult to make the application.
You do not need digital access or photo ID to apply, although if you do have these then you can apply online using a smartphone. Schools and councils can help you apply if you cannot get online or don’t have an available ID.
Essential travellers, such as key workers, will be able to benefit from day one and, as Covid travel restrictions start to lift, even more young people will be able to get onboard and enjoy the opportunities that it will open.
The card is a key part of our plans to build a resilient, sustainable and integrated transport network and ensure that public transport is the first and best choice for journeys.
In Edinburgh we are fortunate to have a good quality and locally owned bus service. I want to see those benefits rolled out across the country.
That is why the cooperation agreement between the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Government delivers a £1 million community bus fund to promote locally owned services and put communities in the driving seat.
We are often told that we need to make sacrifices if we are to cut our carbon emissions. But that’s not the case.
Free bus travel for young people is the perfect example of a policy that is good for people, good for the environment and good for the economy. We all benefit from cleaner air, safer streets and less pollution. If we look after our environment and our communities then they will look after us.
Transport is not just about getting from one place to another. It is so much more than that. It is vital to our wellbeing and access to vital services. By investing in public transport, we are investing in people and supporting services that are vital to our wellbeing.
It is a change that will have a huge and positive impact on hundreds of thousands of young people in Edinburgh and beyond. It is the kind of change that I came into politics to deliver, and I am delighted that we are making it a reality.
How to get your pass
Free bus travel for everyone 21 or under begins on January 31st. To apply online you will need:
– A device with a camera or webcam– Proof of identity– Proof of address
Young people aged 16-21 should apply themselves. They can do this online at Getyournec.scot.
If you are not able to do this online, for example, if you do not have photographic ID, you can apply through Edinburgh City Council.
Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity