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Transport / Plenty of interest locally as free bus travel scheme for under 22s launches

Bus travel across Scotland has become free for all young people aged 21 and under. Photo: Transport Scotland

MORE than 800 applications were received locally for cards allowing youngsters free bus travel ahead of a Scottish Government scheme going live today (Monday).

The scheme is open to children and young people under the age of 22 in possession of a new National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot NEC, and a campaign was launched to encourage folk to sign up.

Figures from Shetland Islands Council show that as of 28 January 840 applications for entitlement cards had been received locally.

Other applications may have been submitted to a national portal instead. Due to the pandemic only people who would need to travel by bus for essential reasons such as education or work were initially encouraged to apply.

Scottish transport minister Jenny Gilruth said: “Extending free bus travel will make public transport more affordable, and help give many young people wider access to more education, leisure, and work opportunities.

“It will also support the choice to travel sustainably early in their lives.

“Increasing bus use will help us achieve our world-leading goal of reducing the number of kilometres travelled by car by 20 per cent by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2045.”

The scheme, however, courted some controversy locally after an islands impact assessment ruled that ferries should not be added to the scheme.

This was despite calls from politicians saying a trip on an inter-island ferry was akin to a getting on a bus.

Links to signing up for entitlement cards can be found here.