Women could face longer wait for free bus passes

Bus concessions could be amended by Transport Scotland.
Bus concessions could be amended by Transport Scotland.

Councillors have backed potential changes to Scotland-wide concessionary travel schemes.

Scottish Borders Council had its say on proposals put forward by the Scottish Government in a consultation response this week.

Transport Scotland wants to introduce free travel for young modern apprentices, companion cards for disabled children under the age of five and to increase the age for free bus travel for women from 60 to 65.

Considering its response on Tuesday, the council’s executive committee agreed to support all three changes but opted to highlight in their response concerns over what use free travel passes would be to the region’s young apprentices.

“We are not against modern apprentices having a concession, but it is much more useful if you live in a big urban area” passenger transport manager Timothy Stephenson said.

“Here, we would be asking if there is something more targeted at our young people. We might be giving them a pass where there is not a service to suit them.”

However, Mid Berwickshire councillor Mark Rowley said he felt uncomfortable with the council saying it does not support free travel for modern apprentices, adding: “I think that’s a very tricky message to put out.”

The committee opted to amend its response in favour the apprentice scheme but to include an additional response to transport minister Humza Yousaf outlining the committee’s concerns about how modern apprentices could benefit more.

Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar added: “If you give modern apprentices a bus pass, you would need to give them a bus as well or they’re not going to get far.

“Saying that ‘no, we don’t agree with giving them free travel’ would emphasise the fact that we have our concerns.

“It would make them read the explanation about lack of services that we have given.”