– in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd January 2019.
1. To ask the Scottish Government what action it can take to allow young people access to cheaper transport, and what its position is on the discounts that are currently offered by the bus and train operators. (S5O-02789)
The Scottish Government continues to take positive targeted action to help young people to access cheaper transport through initiatives such as the national concessionary travel scheme for young people, which offers discounts on bus and rail services. We welcome the range of discounted fares that are offered to young people by operators. Discounts are commercial matters for the individual bus operators. On rail, they are offered under the terms of the ScotRail franchise contract.
The Scottish Government is seeking to introduce free bus travel for young modern apprentices, and for young carers who are in receipt of the planned young carers grant, once it comes into force.
On turning 16, a young person is welcomed into adulthood by being asked to pay full fares on all public transport. Many young people at 16 are not working but are still at school. The discounts that the minister talks about are not deep enough. I welcome what the minister has said on apprentices and carers, but surely it is time to recognise that teenagers across the board, but especially 16 and 17-year-olds, need a fairer deal on buses, trains and ferries.
Pauline McNeill will be aware that the national concessionary travel scheme for young people was introduced back in January 2017 and is delivered through the Young Scot smart card programme. It provides all 16 to 18-year-olds and full-time volunteers up to the age of 25 with discounts on bus travel. A discount rail card is also available for young people.
We are always keen to ensure that we support young people in accessing public transport. On the very specific measure that the member has proposed to provide further discounts over and above what we provide at the present time, no doubt the budget from which she wants that to come will filter through, in the process.