Lorna Slater delighted with free bus travel for the young

Wednesday January 19th 2022


Lorna Slater, Scottish Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lothian MSP and Scottish Greens co-leader writes her monthly column for Midlothian View.

Last week saw the opening of applications for 5–21-year-olds to register for a new National Entitlement Card (or Young Scot Card) that will allow them to travel for free on buses across Scotland.

From the 31st of January, everyone with the new card will be able to travel for free. This will open the country for young people, helping them to travel to work, school, or higher education, and to visit friends and family.

It is a transformative change that will be good for people and the planet. For one family I know it will save £100 a month in bus fares. Not only is this helping young people to get out and about, it is also putting money back in people’s pockets.

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.

For the environment and our health, it is imperative that we increase green travel and shift people out of cars. 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.

Transport is the single biggest source of carbon emissions in Scotland. According to the Department of Transport, in 2020 alone, 350 million vehicle miles were travelled on roads in Midlothian. We are working to get this down.

We are often told that we need to make sacrifices if we are to cut our carbon emissions. But that’s not the case. The changes we need to make are ones that we will all benefit from: cleaner air, safer streets and less pollution are good for all of us. If we look after our environment and our communities then they will look after us.

Buses may not always be viable for longer cross-country journeys. If we are to expand green travel then we need to ensure that bus and train services complement one another, and that rail is also an affordable and accessible option

In the co-operation agreement between the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Government, we have committed to £5 billion pounds of investment in Scotland’s railways, improving our infrastructure and transforming it into the modern and zero carbon rail network that we need.

Transport is not just about getting from point A to point B, it is central to our wellbeing and access to vital services. It can be a lifeline, especially for those that may otherwise be cut-off and isolated. By supporting public transport, we are supporting people and our communities.

Free bus travel will have a huge impact on hundreds of thousands of young people in West Lothian and beyond. It is the kind of change that I came into politics to deliver, and I am delighted that we have made it a reality.

How to get your pass

There are a number of different ways for 5–21 year olds to get their card to access free bus travel. 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 instance if you do not have photographic ID, you can apply through the council.

Parents or guardians will be required to apply on behalf of 5-15 year olds.

Children under the age of 5 do not need to apply as they already travel for free on commercial bus services without a card.

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