MSP bids for free bus travel for 16-18 year-olds

MSP bids for free bus travel for 16-18 year-olds

STEWART PATERSON

Political Correspondent

FREE bus travel should be extended to all 16-18 year olds according to a Glasgow MSP.

Pauline McNeill, Labour MSP, is working on a bill to give more young people free and discounted travel on buses and trains.

The proposal would see 16 to 18 years olds travel free on buses and would also up the age for a child’s fare on the trains from 16 to 18.

Following a survey of pupils across secondary schools in Glasgow the MSP decided to act and push for a change in eligibility for free travel.

Ms McNeill said the survey showed the negative effect bus and train fares had on young people’s independence.

She said free travel would also address an “injustice” of those not in work but still at school or education or in very low paid work but have to pay full fare.

Ms McNeill said: “It has occurred to me for a while now that more needs to be done to support our young people at the stage of their lives when they are able to experience more independence and develop into adults.

“After receiving hundreds of responses to a survey I sent to senior pupils in every Glasgow high school it became apparent that by making it easier for young people to use public transport many aspects of their lives could be improved. The greater mobility this would provide young people with would make it easier for them to travel to part time jobs, meet with friends and take the pressure of parents who often need to cover the costs.”

The Scottish Government has plans to extend reduced travel for apprentices but Ms McNeill said while it was a welcome step it didn’t go far enough to meet the needs of other young people.

She added: “Young people are expected to pay full transport costs from an age when most of them are still at school. For young people with Jobs the likelihood is that they will paid the lowest tier of the minimum wage, so the cost of travel can be a big expense.”

Earlier this year Ms McNeill asked Transport Minister Humza Yousaf if the Scottish Government would extend free travel to 16-18 year-olds.

He said he had also been approached by the Scottish Youth Parliament about the matter and said he would consider it.