skip to main content
A photo on a bus, with a person's head in the foreground as people are sitting on the bus seats.

News: Free bus travel arrives for under-22s in Scotland

Posted 2 February, 2022 by Nina Joynson

Children and young people can now access free bus travel, with the Scottish Government hoping to provide wider access to education, job and leisure opportunities and encourage climate-conscious decisions.

Those aged 5-21 are now eligible for free bus travel under a new scheme delivered by the Scottish Government in partnership with the Improvement Service, the National Entitlement Card Programme Office and Young Scot.

The scheme's rollout 

From 31 January, all children and young people living in Scotland are now entitled to free bus travel. With a card, anyone under 21 can use  registered buses across the country freely. A few services will be exempt from the scheme, such as premium-fare night buses and City Sightseeing services. 

The change means that over 2.3 million people now benefit from free bus travel in Scotland. 

Children and young people will need a new National Entitlement Card (NEC) or a Young Scot NEC. These can be applied for online or directly with local councils, while some schools are coordinating the applications on pupils’ behalf.

Application criticism 

Applications for the scheme opened on 10 January with messaging that encouraged only those with an essential travel need to apply due to the pandemic. All 5-21 year olds are now being encouraged to sign up as of Monday.

However, the application process has been criticised by some users as being lengthy and difficult to complete, with many facing subsequent rejections on the basis of wrong documents or missing or incorrect information.

The process has since been revised to improve ease of application. 

Greater opportunities & sustainable travel

With the cost of living having increased in recent months, the new scheme will help relieve some of the stresses faced by young people amidst rising energy and fuel prices.

Free bus travel widens access to education, work and social opportunities whilst encouraging, and facilitating, use of public transport should help reduce pollution and congestion and improve air quality, especially for those living in cities. The government hopes that, through the scheme, making climate-conscious decisions will be engrained in people from a young age. 

Jenny Gilruth, Scottish Government Minister for Transport, said:

"Extending free bus travel will make public transport more affordable, and help give many young people wider access to more education, leisure, and work opportunities. It will also support the choice to travel sustainably early in their lives."

Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, said:  

"Today’s start line for free bus travel to under-22s shows how we can tackle inequality, respond to the climate emergency and improve the lives of young people through decisive government action."

Click here to learn more about applying for the scheme 

Funding, rights, travel and trade top concerns for young people in Scotland’s post-Brexit relationship with Europe

25 November 2020

A group of children and young people have issued a series of calls about Scotland and the UK’s future relationship with Europe as part of a landmark participation project.

The Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe today publishes its report Young Brexit Voices: It’s Our Future Too, which gathers evidence and recommendations from a year of work looking at what impact leaving the EU might mean for them.

The key calls made by the Panel, which is supported by Children in Scotland and Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) include:

EU Funding

  • Youth services should retain the same level of funding as they currently do from the EU through replacement support
  • Current spending levels on health and science research must continue or increase post-Brexit, with funding assured for research and infrastructure.


  • Children’s rights to education and health, as set out in the UNCRC, must be met and strengthened after the UK leaves the EU. Information should be provided to support children and young people to learn about politics and big decisions like Brexit so they can form their own opinions, influence decisions and have their voices heard.

Opportunities to Work, Study and Travel

  • Accessible, child-friendly information is urgently required about changes in this area from 1 January 2021.

Economy, trade and jobs

  • The minimum wage should be increased to the same level for all, including 16-24 year-olds
  • High standards need to be maintained in trade, particularly in relation to quality of imported food.

The Panel, comprising 19 members aged 8-19, all of whom were too young to vote in the EU referendum, is funded by Scottish Government EU Directorate, and is making its recommendations to the Scottish Constitution and External Affairs Secretary, Michael Russell MSP.

Commenting on her experience as a member of the Panel, Beccie said:

“The Panel has allowed me to meet with key decision-makers and take young people’s views right to the top.”

Amy Woodhouse, Children in Scotland’s Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, said:

“Young people’s views have been given little attention through the Brexit process, despite it being obvious that it is our next generation who will be most affected by the post-Brexit settlement.

“The recommendations in this report demonstrate the wisdom and expertise young people can bring to the issue of Brexit and the coming change in our relationship with Europe. We’re grateful to all the Panel members for their participation, commitment, and the fantastic quality of their insight.”

Juliet Harris, director of Together, said:

“Children and young people have strong opinions about the kind of Scotland they want to grow up in, and yet they often struggle to get their views heard.

“The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is clear that children have the right to have their views taken into account in all decisions that affect them.  We look forward to Scottish Government and all those involved in the Brexit negotiations listening to and acting upon the Panel’s calls.”

Responding to the report’s publication, Constitution and External Affairs Secretary Michael Russell said:

“I would like to thank the members of the Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe for their dedicated work - much of it undertaken in the very difficult circumstances of the Covid pandemic - to investigate, and articulate, the views of young people from all over Scotland on the challenges posed by Brexit.

“They have identified the issues of rights, funding, the ability to travel, study and work overseas, the economy and jobs as areas where young people have particular concerns.

“As the report correctly concludes, we are all going to be living with the consequences of Brexit for years to come.

“So the Scottish Government will study the report carefully, and we will seek further opportunities to listen to the views of young people on these critically important questions.”

The report is the culmination of a year’s work by the Panel, including correspondence and meetings with key decision-makers across civil society, development of resources, and a social media campaign.

The first phase of the Panel’s work took place from July to December 2018.

Click here to download Young Brexit Voices: It’s Our Future Too

The Panel’s first report, Listen to Us, was published in February 2019. Click here to read the report.

Media contact:
Chris Small,

Young Brexit Voices: It's Our Future Too

The Panel's new report features key calls on our future relationship with Europe

Click here to read the report

Voices and views of Panel members

The Panel has produced a short film about their work and recommendations

Click to watch the film

About the Panel's aims and activities

Young people's views on EU withdrawal are being amplified through the Panel's work

Click to find out more

"Listen to Us"

The Panel's phase one project report, Listen To Us, was published in February 2019

Click to read the report

The Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights

Our project partners Together work to improve understanding of the UNCRC

Click to find out more

Our project work

The Panel on Europe is just one of our participation projects

Click to find out more