Annex A: Background to free bus travel in Scotland

Annex A: Background to free bus travel in Scotland

1 The National Bus Travel Scheme for Older and Disabled People was introduced on 1 April 2006 after a public consultation exercise and discussions with stakeholders including local authorities, bus operators and the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS). The Consultation considered the proposed Scheme’s coverage and who should be eligible for free travel before it was agreed by the Scottish Parliament.

2 This built on an agreement reached by the Scottish Government and the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), on behalf of bus operators, for the delivery of a free national bus travel scheme for eligible passengers at agreed levels of payment to the industry.

3 It was agreed that the aim of the Scheme would be to provide free bus travel throughout Scotland to those aged sixty and over and to people who had an impairment that severely affected their mobility and ability to carry out day to day activities.

History of earlier concessionary schemes in Scotland

4 During the 1980s and 1990s, local authorities in Scotland financed and operated concessionary travel schemes for specific groups of people including the elderly, disabled and the young.  Latterly, there were 16 concessionary schemes covering all local authorities with different rules and levels of reimbursement.

5 The benefits and restrictions in these local schemes varied considerably as it was for each Council to determine how best to meet local needs. Some schemes offered free travel, some half-fare and in one instance a discount for the first 10 miles of any journey. Some schemes were limited to travel within the authority’s own boundaries. Some were joint schemes of more than one Council and allowed travel within their combined area, and some allowed journeys to specific identified destinations outwith the Council’s boundary. Some schemes had peak period restrictions and others did not.

6 From October 2002 a national minimum standard of free local off-peak bus travel was applied to the local schemes.  On 1 April 2003 the schemes were extended to allow men aged 60-64 to receive the same travel benefits as women aged 60+. Previously, men became eligible at age 65.