02 Aug 2018 14:30
No change to the age of eligibility
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson has announced that the National Concessionary Travel Scheme will be extended to companions of eligible disabled children aged under five, which could result in over 3000 families and children additionally benefitting from the bus pass.
Additionally, Mr Matheson announced that the age of eligibility will not change for the National Concessionary Travel Scheme and that the options to provide free bus travel for Modern Apprentices will continue to be considered.
The consultation on the scheme closed in November 2017, with nearly 3000 responses received from people and organisations all across Scotland. Two thirds of respondents felt that that the free bus pass should remain available from the age of 60. A similar number of respondents felt that Modern Apprentices should benefit from free bus travel, and an overwhelming number of respondents were in favour of providing companion cards for eligible disabled children aged under five.
The Cabinet Secretary made the announcement while meeting stakeholders from the bus industry for the first time in his new ministerial post. Mr Matheson said:
“The bus pass is a benefit that many people enjoy and use as part of their daily lives and I’m delighted that this government will expand the scheme to include companions of eligible disabled children aged under five.
“The concessionary travel scheme enables independence, accessibility and social inclusivity. We have listened closely to the many respondents who feel that the free bus pass should remain available to all from the age of 60 and concluded that we should not change the age of eligibility. We will also continue to explore options to provide free bus travel for Modern Apprentices, while keeping the scheme under review and maintaining a balanced budget.
“At a time when we are investing and encouraging more people to use Scotland’s many excellent bus services, this government will do all it can to ensure as many people as possible consider the many benefits of bus travel. The £250m we spend every year on the bus pass and support for services is a substantial part of this effort.
“It is right that we explore and ensure the sustainability of National Concessionary Travel Scheme and I am grateful to all those who took part in the consultation process and helped inform the future scope of Scotland’s bus pass.”
Kayleigh Thorpe, Head of Campaigns at ENABLE Scotland, said:
“We welcome the announcement extending the right to a companion bus pass to disabled children under the age of 5. This is a change we called for in our response to the consultation.
“The cost of travel can prove a significant burden upon families who may already be under substantial financial pressure with the additional costs of raising a disabled child.
“We are delighted that families of disabled children can now access this support.”
Visit the Transport Scotland website
for more information on concessionary travel.