Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur (pictured), has written to the Cabinet Secretary for Transport about the “unnecessarily complex and confusing” application process to the Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme.
Children and young people aged 5−21 years old will need a new or replacement National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot National Entitlement Card (Young Scot NEC) before hopping on board for free from Monday 31 January.
Previously issued cards will not allow access to the scheme.
This has led to a number of constituents raising concerns with Mr McArthur about inaccessibility to the scheme as many children and young people do not hold proof of age identification.
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
“While there has been great fanfare around the scheme opening to applications, it is increasingly clear that the process is far from straightforward.
“Many constituents have been in touch to highlight their experience of applying, with most struggling for hours to complete the process.
“The requirement for children as young as 5 to acquire new or replacement national entitlement cards, often leading to the need to acquire proof of age identification such as passports, seems entirely disproportionate.
“If the idea is to make bus travel as accessible as possible to young people, this seems to be a heavy-handed way of going about it.
“It’s also regrettable that Ministers have chosen to exclude ferry travel.
“Given that ferries function much like buses for many islanders, including ferry travel in this scheme would have been appropriate and provided more equal opportunities for young people in Orkney.
“I have written to the Cabinet Secretary to raise these concerns on behalf constituents and hope this will be taken into account in adapting the scheme.”