Figures released by the Scottish Government have revealed over 20,000 Renfrewshire young people are now benefiting from free bus travel.
And the statistics were hailed by local MP, Gavin Newlands, as a “game-changer” for the poorest in society.
The numbers put Renfrewshire 8th in the Scottish council league table, as over 2.2 million journeys have taken place in the county using the entitlement card since its launch in January last year.
Renfrewshire’s uptake of 70.9% of eligible young people places it higher than the national average of 68.3%.
21,346 young people held a travel card at the end of May this year,
The national concessionary travel scheme, which previously only applied to over 60s and disabled people, was extended in January 2022 to cover all Scottish residents aged 21 and under, meaning over 600,000 extra cardholders across Scotland as a whole now benefit from free bus travel throughout the whole country.
Over 190 bus operators participate in the scheme, including McGill’s and First Bus.
Children under 16 travelling with an adult can also benefit from ScotRail’s Kids for a Quid scheme, providing tickets on any ScotRail service for just £1 per child.
Welcoming the new data, Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP, Gavin Newlands, said: “I was delighted to see the publication of these latest figures, which show the real difference this Scottish Government funded scheme is making for thousands of young people across our communities.
“With over 2.2 million journeys by Renfrewshire’s young people since the scheme’s launch, and over 20,000 card holders, this is a programme that covers every community in the country, and helping with every bus journey taken.
“That comes out at an estimated £6.27 million saved by young people across Renfrewshire since January last year, real help in the pocket for families and households caught in the middle of the Tories’ cost of living crisis – and in particular a game-changer for young people who are forced to live in poverty.
“With that in mind, while I’m delighted over 70% of eligible under 22s have got their pass, that still leaves just under 30% who could be getting the benefits of free bus travel. I’d urge anyone who hasn’t yet applied for their pass to visit freebus.scot to get their application up and running.
“Too often those who support Westminster tell us we can’t make progress in Scotland. The young persons free bus scheme and publicly owned ScotRail’s bargain tickets show how Holyrood is streets ahead of the failing UK state in building a fairer society.
“It’s time we had the power to do much more for everyone’s journeys and had the full benefits of independence to do just that.”