There are concerns in Scotland that the introduction of free bus travel for those under 22 from January 2022 will have adverse implications on passenger numbers on both Edinburgh Trams and the Glasgow Subway. In a similar funding package to the concessionary travel scheme, the Scottish Government have confirmed that it covers only buses with it the responsibility of local authorities if they wish to extend to other transport modes.
Transport for Edinburgh and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport have come together to urge the government to include both the trams and subway to be included as they fear that there could be major losses of income which would lead to significant fare increases to cover these losses.
For Edinburgh Trams they have suggested losses could reach £1.5 million (and up to £3 million by 2023) whilst for the Subway its estimated there will be a 15% fall in fare income.
A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “The new statutory nationwide scheme is for bus travel only, in the same way as the existing older and disabled persons free bus scheme. There are separate local concessionary schemes that are run by local authorities or regional transport partnerships that cover other modes of transport. Any decision to extend concessions to these modes rests with them.”
Cllr Adam McVey, SNP, Leader of Edinburgh City Council, said: “Free bus travel for people under 22 is a fantastic policy and a huge achievement by the SNP in government, but there is a need in cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow, where tram and Subway are important parts of the transport network, to expand this policy. The analysis we’ve done shows the cost of doing this is unaffordable for us as a council trying to fund it alone.”