Under 22s can now apply for free bus travel in Scotland

Lead Image: Eric Veiga via Unsplash

By Daniella Theis

Young Scots can now apply for a card allowing them to travel for free on bus services across Scotland from January 31st.

The Young Persons’ (Under 22s) Free Bus Travel Scheme was confirmed last year as part of Scotland’s fight against climate change and after previous research by Transport Scotland indicated that 70% of young would use public transport more frequently if it was free.

Talking about the scheme last November, 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.

“Adopting more sustainable travel behaviour is vital if we are to reach our world-leading goal of reducing the number of kilometres travelled by car by 20% by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2045.”

The scheme provides young people with free bus travel both within their local area and any other area in Scotland on registered bus services. It also allows travel to Carlisle or Berwick-Upon-Tweed but excludes premium-fare services such as night buses and City Sightseeing buses. 

Strathclyde Student Kirsty Pollard is excited for the scheme but wishes it would go further.

She said: “I’m excited about it but it’s annoying because I’m about to turn 22. Would be ideal if it was free for students who still live on a tight budget.”

Free travel is made possible through smart technology and using a National Entitlement Card (NEC), which can be tapped when getting on the bus.

Young people are encouraged to apply for a new NEC Card to access the scheme, even if they held such cards previously, as only newly issued cards will work on buses.

However, due to current Coronavirus guidance, Transport Scotland is asking that only those apply that need to make essential journeys by bus, such as people travelling for work, education, health, or care reasons.

Applications for NEC travel cards can be made online via GETYOURNEC.SCOT or by contacting your local council.