Back plans to extend free bus travel to under-25s, Scottish Labour tells MSPs

Scottish Labour has urged MSPs to back its proposal to extend free bus travel to the under-25s.

In a Holyrood debate on Wednesday, the party will bring forward a motion calling for an extension to be implemented.

The motion also states that “significant action must be taken” to address a reduction in the number of journeys, fleet size and staff employed in Scotland’s bus sector.

Leader Richard Leonard announced at his party’s conference in Dundee earlier this month that Labour would work towards building “a free bus network to serve the whole of Scotland”.

According to Scottish Government figures, bus use in the country has changed over the last five years, with an 8% drop in the number of people travelling on buses, bus fleet sizes decreasing by 10% and staff numbers falling by 2%.

The figures also show that 43% of people in Scotland use a bus at least once a month, whilst passenger satisfaction rates have increased over the last three years.

According to Scottish Labour’s analysis of the figures, 52% of people who had taken a bus journey ‘in the past day’ had an annual income of less than £20,000.

Scottish Labour’s Transport spokesman, Colin Smyth MSP, said that providing free bus travel to the under-25s would help young people who struggle with living costs.

“Free bus travel for the over 60s has tackled isolation, created opportunities and helped fight pensioner poverty,” Mr Smyth said.

“It will open up opportunities for young people – especially those on low incomes.

“That’s why Scottish Labour is arguing parliament should back extending free bus travel to those under the age of 25.

“This is a simple policy that will help cut emissions and help young people struggling with the cost of living. Other parties will have to explain why they back free bus travel for pensioners but not for young people.

“In government, Labour will use Scotland’s powers to transform our transport system so it works for the many, not just the few.”

SNP MSP Gail Ross said: “Richard Leonard needs to do the maths on this proposal, having given no thought whatsoever to how his party might fund it.

“Labour are making empty promises to voters that they know they will never have to deliver. No wonder they keep sliding down the polls.

“The choice between a fair, costed, progressive SNP plan for young people and a chaotic Labour party with a lack of ideas is clear.”