3rd Year Week 7 TT06
Low-cost travel plan for young
THE cost of travelling on public transport for young people is to be slashed as part of a Scottish executive scheme to reduce car use on school runs.
Under-18s will be given smart cards allowing them low-cost travel on buses, trains and ferries. It is hoped the scheme, to be launched next year, will encourage young people to be less dependent on cars.
Several local authorities have scrapped free school buses to save money, but ministers hope that cut-price public transport will persuade parents to abandon the school run, blamed for increasing urban gridlock, accidents and pollution.
Pensioners and disabled people receive free fares on public transport, whereas young people are charged 70% of adult fares by most bus companies.
Under the new scheme it is understood that the executive will provide funding to allow firms to cut juvenile fares to a third of adult fares.
Tavish Scott, the transport minister, believes that introducing concessionary fares for young people will aid their development and make them more independent.
“We are keen to encourage young people to consider public transport as the real transport choice,” said a spokeswoman for the minister.
Cars taking children to school account for one in five of all rush-hour vehicles. Heavy car use is blamed for high levels of asthma north of the border.
Opposition parties broadly welcomed the new scheme. “If these proposals will increase the opportunities for young people to enjoy healthy recreation and to travel safely to school, that has to be a good thing,” said David Davidson, transport spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives.
“But a scheme of this sort needs to go hand in hand with a system where we also give adequate support to community transport.”
Chris Ballance, the Green party MSP, said: “This would appear to be an excellent scheme. For far too many young people, particularly in remote areas, the difficulty is simply finding public transport at the times when they need it.”
Cutting the cost of public transport for young people is a policy that been endorsed unanimously by the Scottish Youth Parliament.
Ross Watson, convener of the organisation’s transport, environment and rural affairs committee, hopes to work with Scott to help to agree the final details of the scheme.