Under 22s living in Scotland can now benefit from free bus travel through a Scottish Government scheme.

The scheme is open to children and young people with a new National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot NEC. Tens of thousands have already applied and received their card and will be able to start travelling for free from 31 January. Many more applications are in the pipeline as the programme gears up over the coming weeks. 

It now means that over 2.3 million people – everyone under 22, everyone over 60, and disabled people and carers – can now benefit from free bus travel in Scotland. 

Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth said: 

“I am delighted that from today, thanks to the Scottish Government, every young person under 22 in Scotland with an entitlement card can now travel for free by bus across Scotland. 

 “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.   

“Increasing bus use will help us achieve our world-leading goal of reducing the number of kilometres travelled by car by 20% by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2045. 

“It will also support local bus services to recover, as we all emerge from the most recent COVID-19 restrictions. Please remember that to keep people safe, face coverings are still required on public transport for those aged 12 or older, unless otherwise exempt.” 

Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights Patrick Harvie MSP said: 

 “This is an exciting moment for sustainable travel in Scotland. 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. 

“As we work to secure a green recovery from the pandemic, free bus travel will create new opportunities, protect our climate while at the same time reducing financial barriers for young people right across the country.” 

Information about the scheme and how to apply is available on the Transport Scotland website. 

The Young Persons’ Free Travel Scheme is administered in partnership with the Improvement Service, the National Entitlement Card Programme Office and Young Scot. Applications remain open for children and young people to get their new or replacement National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot NEC which is required to use the scheme.   

The scheme has been opened to all eligible young people to apply since 10 January. However, messaging in advance of and around that point focused on young people with essential need to travel to align with Covid-19 guidance at the same time. With restrictions now easing, the expectation is that all young people can and will apply and the scheme will be promoted more widely in the coming weeks.   


More information on how to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, including guidance on travel, is available on the Scottish Government website: gov.scot/coronavirus 

The Scottish Government has partnered with the Improvement Service, the National Entitlement Card Programme Office and Young Scot to deliver the Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme. Information about the scheme and how to apply is available on the Transport Scotland website. An extensive marketing campaign promoting the scheme will be launched in the coming weeks assuming the recovery from the pandemic continues. 

Local councils, the Improvement Service and National Entitlement Card Programme Office are responsible for the card management, application and renewal processes for the NEC and offer a range of ways to apply. A number of different methods are available for 5–21 year olds to get their card to access free bus travel; online at GETYOURNEC.SCOT or through parentsportal.scot, if it is used by the child’s school; via a local council where it is not possible to apply online; and, in some local council areas, schools are coordinating applications on behalf of their pupils.  Local council websites provide more information on their application processes.  

Parents or guardians must provide approval for children aged between 5-15 to access the scheme by applying for a new National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot NEC on their behalf. Young people aged 16-21 should apply themselves. 

Young people who are over 11 years old can choose to apply for the Young Scot NEC or a standard NEC. If they choose a Young Scot NEC, they can use it to save money with in-person and online discounts – with over 500 discounts in Scotland and over 100,000 deals across Europe. It also acts as legal proof of age. www.young.scot/the-young-scot-card  

Published: Monday, 31st January 2022