Free bus passes: Are you eligible for new non-pensioner travel scheme?

Sadiq Khan quizzed by pensioner on future of free bus passes

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With the Government due to increase the state pension age, pensioners could see themselves waiting an extra year to get a free bus pass. However, a new free bus travel scheme opened yesterday for applications and will be enacted from January 31, 2022. Here’s how to find out if you are eligible.

In England the free bus pass available to pensioners is linked to the state pension age. 

Currently, that age is 66 but Government policy could see this updated to 67 by the year 2028. 

This change has been proposed in order to help keep state pension policies aligned with general life expectancy in the UK. 

Furthermore, it is believed that the minimum age will increase to 68 before 2050. 

If implemented, these changes could see pensioners waiting longer to access their free bus pass and a variety of other benefits that come from being above the state pension age. 

However, a new travel scheme opened for applications on January 10, 2022 and is said to benefit over 900,000 people. 

The Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme will officially start on January 31, 2022. 

The scheme opened by the Scottish Government will look to provide free travel for those under the age of 22 with research showing that 70 percent of this age group would use public transport more if it was free of charge. 

While applications are open, the Scottish Government has advised that only those that have an essential need to travel apply at the moment. 

This is due to the pandemic and encouragement from the Government for people to stay home as much as possible. 

The scheme will require those benefiting from it to carry a National Entitlement Card or Young Scot NEC with them when travelling on buses. 

If they are unable to present these cards, those on the scheme will have to pay for their travel. 

The scheme is open for those living in Scotland between the ages of five and 21 as children under the age of five already receive free bus travel. 

Additionally, anyone who is under the age of 21 and lives in Scotland for at least six months of the year can also apply. 

Applicants will need a new or replacement NEC or Young Scot NEC with the scheme loaded on it before they can travel for free as cards previously issued will not provide access to the scheme. 

Those aged between five and 15 years old will need a parent or guardian to apply for them and provide their approval for the child to travel for free by bus. 

Applicants aged 16 to 21 will need to apply for themselves. 

Applicants can apply online or at their local council office. 

The new or replacement NEC cards should be delivered within 10 working days of one’s application being approved. 

However, due to the recent release and opening of the application process, demand for January is expected to be high and applicants are advised to be patient. 

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