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Free bus travel for young people in Scotland

All residents of Scotland under the age of 22 will become eligible for free bus travel from January 31.

The free bus travel will have conditions similar to those on offer for those with disabilities or who are over 60, who have been entitled to free coach and local bus travel since 2006.

A small number of bus services, including premium fare night buses, will be excluded from the scheme.

Free travel will be enabled through Scotland’s National Entitlement Card (NEC) programme, which provides eligible residents of Scotland with a smartcard to access some government services.

Residents of Scotland under 22 are also eligible for free bus journeys through the free Young Scot NEC scheme, which grants access to various discounts and other benefits at businesses across Scotland.

Those who already have a Young Scot NEC or National Entitlement Card will need to apply for a new card in order to access free bus travel.

A “mygovscot” account is required to get a Young Scot NEC or a National Entitlement Card free of charge (sign up here), alongside a passport style photo and documents showing proof of address and identity. After collecting these documents, the application for the card can be found here.

Though applications for new National Entitlement Cards for obtaining free bus travel are now open, the Scottish Government is requesting that only those who need to regularly travel by bus sign up right now.

The new scheme comes as the Scottish Government seeks to direct journeys on to public transport where possible, as part of a campaign to see Scotland become a net-zero country by 2045.

In a public statement, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said,

“We are committed to giving our young people the very best chances to succeed in life. The extension of free bus travel to all under 22s will improve access to education, leisure, and work, while supporting the adoption of sustainable travel behaviours early in their lives.”

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By Joe Sullivan

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