Monica Lennon MSP has warned that young people in South Lanarkshire are missing out on free bus travel due to problems with a Scottish Government scheme.
Only 13 per cent of eligible children and young people in South Lanarkshire have successfully obtained their pass under the Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme, since it launched in January.
The scheme is aimed at all young people aged 22 and under, with 59,100 youth in South Lanarkshire eligible for free bus travel. Four months after the flagship scheme was launched by the SNP transport minister, fewer than 8,000 children and young people have received their pass.
Monica is encouraging young people to sign up to the Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme after research by her party, Scottish Labour, revealed uptake in South Lanarkshire is the lowest in Scotland.
Data obtained by Scottish Labour reveals that more than 70 per cent of eligible young people across the country do not have a pass.
Monica said: “It has never been more important for children and young people to have access to free, safe and reliable bus travel.
“The application for the Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme should have been simpler and I raised concerns even before it was launched. The fact that uptake across Scotland is so low should be a wake-up call to the Scottish Government to simplify the application process.
“My immediate concern is that South Lanarkshire has the lowest uptake in Scotland. That means children and young people in Hamilton, Larkhall, Stonehouse and the smaller surrounding villages are missing out at a time when cost of living is shooting up.
“Instead of creating more inequality, the scheme was supposed to create more opportunities for children and young people and has the potential to ease the cost of living crisis for families, as well as helping to tackle the climate emergency.
“We have to learn from parts of Scotland where the scheme is successful. Labour-run Inverclyde Council co-ordinated applications through schools and has seen an uptake rate of 80 per cent. I have asked the Scottish Government to urgently review the process because it’s wrong that so many of my young constituents are missing out.
“Any Central Scotland residents who have had trouble with their application can contact my office on 01698 225716 or email email@example.com”
Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme: Eligibility and Uptake:
|Council||No. Passes||No. Eligible||Percentage|
|Argyll and Bute||3,046||14,100||21.6|
|City of Edinburgh||42,142||84,800||49.7|
|Comhairle nan Eilean Siar||677||1,600||42.3|
|Dumfries and Galloway||4,763||25,100||19.0|
|Perth and Kinross||6,775||26,700||25.4|