Free Bus Travel for Under-22s

Young people aged 5 to 21 will be able to access the new free bus scheme in January 2022 - using the National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot branded NEC.

You can’t apply for this new scheme yet. Information on how to apply will be provided later this year - check the Transport Scotland website for updates.

If you need a new/replacement NEC or Young Scot NEC in the meantime and you are an East Lothian resident - you can apply online at  If you can't apply online you can also apply at your local library.

Who to contact about the Free Bus Travel Scheme

If you have any queries about the new free bus scheme contact Transport Scotland at:

Additional information about the Free Bus Travel Scheme

The timeline

The scheme was announced in January 2020 but won't start until January 2022. This is consistent with post-COVID public commitments to implement the scheme for under 19s this financial year.  The new scheme will also now include all young people aged under 22 from day one - subject to Parliamentary approval to include 19 to 21 year olds in the Scheme - this decision is due in August 2021.

The scheme doesn't include under 26s

Young people are the priority for the new scheme, as they are more likely to travel by bus and to find public transport expensive. They are also more likely to be in low-paid or insecure work.  However, Transport Scotland is looking more widely at the costs and benefits of public transport concessions, alongside affordability and availability more generally as part of their ongoing work across public transport.

Child safety and bus travel

Parents or guardians will have to approve applications for young people under the age of 16 to make sure they can exercise their responsibility for their children’s safety. This includes providing approval for existing cardholders to use the scheme.  These approval arrangements will be reviewed after the first year the Scheme is in operation, to check they are working as they should.

Impact on school transport provision

Only registered local bus services are included in the scheme. Transport Scotland and its delivery partners are working with representatives of ATCO/COSLA to consider the potential impacts of the introduction of the scheme on school transport provision.

Ferry travel for island communities

The scheme is for free bus travel and does not provide for free ferry travel, however Transport Scotland is carrying out an Island Communities Impact Assessment on the new Scheme which will be published later in the summer.