Public Transport (National Concessionary Scheme)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 28 March 2024.

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Photo of Ruth Maguire Ruth Maguire Scottish National Party

3. To ask the Scottish Government how many citizens, including residents of the Cunninghame South constituency, have accessed free public transport through the national concessionary scheme in the last year. (S6O-03278)

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

As of 29 February 2024, there were 2,327,913 national concessionary travel scheme card holders in Scotland, who made 177,291,227 journeys during the period from 1 March 2023 to 29 February 2024. The data is not broken down into constituency areas, as cards are issued by local authorities. However, I am pleased to confirm that there are currently 69,057 card holders in the North Ayrshire Council area, who made a total of 4,764,887 journeys during that period.

Photo of Ruth Maguire Ruth Maguire Scottish National Party

In the “Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme—Year 1 Evaluation: Professional Stakeholder Feedback” report, one local authority commented:

“The impact has been really positive with families getting out and about together, parents not having to worry about paying out for bus fares, being able to take part in more events with not having to worry about how to get there.”

Does the minister agree that that is just one of the many advantages of the scheme to young people, their families and our wider communities, in particular in the current cost of living crisis?

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

Yes, absolutely. In addition, it has been estimated that families can save £3,000 for each child who makes full use of the free bus travel. The one-year evaluation of the scheme found that those savings have allowed young people and their families to spend that money on essential household costs and leisure activities, and that, for some children, the scheme has removed a barrier to joining classmates on school trips. It also makes it easier for grandparents and grandchildren to travel together, facilitating intergenerational outings.

We can add to that just being able to jump on a bus to go to visit family, whether it is to see your gran and grandad, your cousins or your favourite auntie and uncle. I have also been told about a young constituent of mine who has taken a job in Edinburgh purely because of the bus pass, and the scheme is delivering a whole host of other benefits.