Agreements with the bus industry
Transport Scotland and the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) agreed terms in January 2019 setting budgets and reimbursement rates to operators under the Scotland-wide Free Bus Travel Scheme for Older and Disabled People for 2019-2020.
Building on agreements reached in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018, the new agreement ensures bus operators continue to be fairly reimbursed for carrying passengers under the scheme and safeguards free bus travel for older and eligible disabled people living in Scotland.
Similar to the 2013 agreement, changes were required to the legislation underpinning the scheme. Amended legislation detailing changes to the budget and reimbursement rates to operators came into force on 1 April 2019.
Under 5s Extension to Disabled Companion Concessionary NECs
Transport Scotland has extended the existing Scotland-wide Free Bus Travel Scheme to disabled children under 5.
The Scottish Parliament passed legislation, on 3 March 2021, that extends the existing National Concessionary Travel Scheme (NCTS) to eligible disabled children under the age of five, allowing free bus travel for them and an accompanying companion.
This new entitlement is available from 1 April 2021.
2019 Agreement with the Bus Industry
2018 Agreement with the Bus Industry
2017 Agreement with the Bus Industry
2015 Agreement with the Bus Industry
2013 Agreement with the Bus Industry
Background to the scheme
In 2004, the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) and the Scottish Executive committed to an unrestricted scheme providing free bus travel for people living in Scotland aged 60 and over, as well as eligible disabled people. The process is documented in the agreement letter from the Scottish Executive and the response from the CPT.
In 2005, a public consultation exercise followed these initial agreements. The consultation asked questions that covered topics such as proposed eligibility criteria and technical aspects of the scheme.
Following on from the consultation and stakeholder discussions, the Scottish Executive prepared two Scottish Statutory Instruments that underpinned the terms of the scheme. These were approved by the Scottish Parliament and came into force from 1 April 2006.
Changes to legislation for welfare reform
As part of the UK Government’s welfare benefit reforms Disability Living Allowance has been replaced by Personal Independence Payment. Receipt of certain components and rates of Disability Living Allowance are included in the eligibility criteria for the concessionary travel scheme.
To mitigate the effects of these reforms and ensure that eligible disabled people continue to have access to the scheme, the Scottish Government extended the scheme’s eligibility criteria to include recipients of Personal Independence Payment. The changes to the eligibility criteria are set out in legislation which came into force on 8 April 2013 and are described below:
- The extension of the eligibility criteria to include Personal Independence Payment maintains access to concessionary travel for eligible disabled people in Scotland.
- All recipients of Personal Independence Payment (or PIP) are eligible for concessionary travel and all recipients of the Daily Living component of PIP will be eligible to receive a companion card (enabling a companion to travel free with them).
- If when reassessed for PIP you find you are not eligible for that benefit, you are able to continue using your concessionary travel card until its expiry date.
Following an Audit Scotland review in 2010, Transport Scotland commissioned research in 2012 to gather feedback and develop an understanding of the views of older and disabled people who are eligible and have applied to access the Scotland-wide Free Bus Travel scheme.
The research project, by Research Resource and ODS Consulting, took place over two years (2013-2014), with telephone surveys of over 3,000 representative NEC holders in each year to collect feedback, alongside a series of focus groups.
Card holders were asked about:
- their use of the NEC in daily travel
- the value they placed on the NEC
- their views on misuse or abuse of the scheme
- the difference the scheme made to their lives
The findings, documented below, are being used to inform and improve the scheme.
- In 2014, 99% of respondents stated that they were either very or fairly satisfied with the scheme overall. Satisfaction with bus travel generally was also high with over 9 in 10 respondents (93%) expressing satisfaction when travelling by bus.
- There was also evidence that the Scheme is encouraging modal shift, with 41% stating that they use the car less. It is also encouraging some cardholders to walk more to and from bus stops.
- 48% of respondents said they now make journeys that they would not previously have made.
- For respondents with a Disabled or Visual Impairment card, the provision of independence was a key benefit. Younger participants in particular, felt that having the card gave them the opportunity to get out and about without relying on parents or carers for support.
- The research confirmed the Scotland-wide Free Bus Travel Scheme is greatly valued and works well for card holders for a number of reasons including financial savings, reducing isolation, engendering a sense of greater independence and increasing confidence in their own ability to travel.
- The research highlighted how cardholders perceive the scheme as having improved their mental and physical well-being.
For full feedback, you can read the reports below.
The findings from the year one research can be found on the Customer Feedback Research - Year One Report and from year two on the Customer Feedback Research - Year Two Report.