The roll-out of free bus travel to almost half a million young people in Scotland has proven ”vital” in helping individuals and their families cope with the national cost crisis, say the Scottish Greens.
Close to 22 million free bus journeys have been made since the scheme first started in January, with a major new campaign now being prepared to ensure all those entitled to free trips are aware of the benefit.
Not only is it supporting people financially, the switch in attitudes towards embracing public transport is seen as a key shift in helping in tackling the climate crisis.
Scottish Green Transport spokesperson Mark Ruskell MSP said:
“We always knew there would be a lasting financial benefit for people who can now travel for free, be that for work, education or leisure, improving that social mobility.
“But it really has come at the most vital of times during this cost crisis, helping hard squeezed families and individuals at a time when household incomes are being stretched on so many fronts.
“The huge uptake from young people speaks volumes, and so it is only right that we try and extend this group of users as far and wide as we possibly can and encourage as many free journeys as possible.
“It is also part of how bus services recover after Covid. It will take time and it is vital the Government keeps putting out the message that using the bus is safe and free for young people and for older and disabled people.”
He said he was hopeful that the keen interest being shown by communities would also be heeded by bus operators across the country too. Mr Ruskell added:
“With more journeys taking place, I hope it will ensure and encourage operators to maintain high levels of connectivity for communities and resist cutting routes while services are still building back.
“There are also massive environmental benefits to be had, not only by reducing the number of unnecessary car journeys, but also by changing attitudes.
“These journeys will be habit forming and ultimately lead to less cars on the road.
“The pass is already building independence and confidence in young people to use the bus first, that’s a life skill that will stick.
“It is why Scottish Greens in Government working to deliver on progressive policies like this is such a huge step forward. We are proving that by working in collaboration we can achieve the bold changes that Scotland needs.”
* To learn more about the benefits of free bus travel visit freebus.scot.