If you are over 60 or have a disability, you could be eligible for free bus travel to get around Scotland and your local area. You can access this via the National Entitlement Card, your pass to free bus travel in Scotland.
How to apply
To apply for a Natonal Entitlement Card, contact your Local Authority or Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT). Depending on where you live, you can collect an application form from your Local Authority or SPT travel centre.
You will need:
- a completed application form (not all local authorities require this, check with yours to confirm the process in your area)
- a recent photograph
- proof of age or disability
- proof of your current address
Check the National Entitlement Card website for more information on proofs required.
Contact your local authority to apply
Objectives and benefits
The scheme provides free travel on registered local and long-distance bus services throughout Scotland, at any time of day for any number of journeys, for those aged 60 and over, as well as for eligible disabled people who live in Scotland.
Cardholders living in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles receive two free return ferry journeys each year to the Scottish mainland.
Over 1.2 million cardholders currently benefit from the Scotland-wide scheme. They made over 145m passenger journeys on local buses in Scotland in 2012-13, with an average benefit per cardholder at around £250 per year.
The key objectives of the concessionary travel scheme are to:
- allow older and disabled people, improved access to services, facilities and social networks, promoting social inclusion
- improve health by promoting a more active lifestyle for the elderly and disabled
- remove the restrictions of the previous local off-peak concessionary fare scheme which was limited in offering access to facilities
- promote a modal shift from private cars to public transport
- maintain a viable position for bus operators with a standard reimbursement rate
- provide opportunities for improvements to public transport, such as assisting development of multi-operator ticketing and the use of electronic ticket machine technology
- facilitate a more effective administration of the system by adopting a standard reimbursement rate and shifting operational responsibility from local authorities to Transport Scotland
- provide a stimulus to the introduction of smart ticketing
Where can I travel?
Almost everywhere in Scotland and as far as Carlisle and Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Your National Entitlement Card gives you free travel throughout Scotland on nearly all local registered and long-distance scheduled bus services. Only a few services, such as premium-fare night buses and City Sightseeing buses, do not accept the card.
So many of Scotland's major towns and cities are easily accessible with the National Entitlement Card. Use the Visit Scotland website to find out how you can reach some of the country's best attractions by bus.
Some local authorities offer other discounts on rail, tram or subway for their card-holders. Your card-issuing Local Authority can tell you more – a contact number can be found on the back of your card when you receive it.
Using your card
You can use your National Entitlement Card to get a ticket in advance or on the bus. Advance tickets must be collected in person.
When you get on the bus, look for the electronic ticket machine by the door to the driver's compartment. Place your card on the machine with your photograph facing up and tell the driver your stop. The driver will help you if you need assistance. If there isn't a ticket machine like this, just show the driver your card and tell him your stop.
Remember you can only use your most recently issued National Entitlement Card on the bus. Any other cards will not work and you will not be allowed free bus travel.
If the electronic ticket machine did not recognise your card it may have expired or be damaged. If this is the case, please contact your Local Authority immediately to arrange a new card. The card will be dispatched as soon as possible and should be received within 7 days.
If the card appears to be valid but does not work on the machine, the driver will give you the option to pay the full fare and keep your card or hand over your card in exchange for a seven day temporary pass. The temporary pass will be valid for free travel for you but the companion element will not be available. You should then contact your Local Authority immediately to request a new card. The card will be dispatched as soon as possible and should be received within 7 days.
Apply for your card
Contact your local authority to apply.