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Bus pass 'opens up so many avenues', says Wick community councillor


By Alan Hendry

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At the time the scheme was launched, it was estimated that 930,000 young people across Scotland would benefit.
At the time the scheme was launched, it was estimated that 930,000 young people across Scotland would benefit.

A Wick community councillor is highlighting the benefits of a free bus pass that "opens up so many avenues" for young people.

Allan Bruce has been working with Wick High School to promote a Scottish Government scheme introduced in January last year. It means that those aged between five and 21 are eligible to apply for a new or replacement National Entitlement Cards (NEC) or Young Scot NEC.

At the time of its launch, it was estimated that 930,000 young people across Scotland would benefit.

Mr Bruce, vice-chairman of the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council, spoke about the scheme at the organisation's monthly meeting on Monday night.

"I've been doing a bit of work with the school with regard to the free bus passes for kids," he said. "Fair play to the school, they're taking the challenge on.

"I've spoken to Stagecoach and Aaron's of Wick and they are both welcoming the work that we're all trying to do.

"It's important for the youth of the Highlands to have this ability to travel freely and there has not been a huge uptake on it. It's there and it's available for all youths up to the age of 22.

The bus scheme for those aged under 22 has been welcomed by Stagecoach, according to Allan Bruce.
The bus scheme for those aged under 22 has been welcomed by Stagecoach, according to Allan Bruce.

"I have to say that it has been quite difficult to crack the case. It's not the easiest application in the world to fill in – you've got to persevere with it.

"We are isolated up here, but this gives every youngster the opportunity to travel anywhere in Scotland free of charge."

Mr Bruce added: "I have to give Wick High School their due on this one. The kids know about it but parents and grandparents need to be made aware of it – grandparents can be on a bus with their grandchild and they're both travelling free, and I don't think there has been enough emphasis on it.

"Folk are sick of hearing me speaking about it.

"You can go anywhere in Scotland with that, so if you're off in Edinburgh or you're in Glasgow or even Inverness for the day, I think it opens up so many avenues and I am very passionate about this."

Details of the scheme can be found on the Transport Scotland website.

Nicola Sturgeon, who was still First Minister at the time of the launch in 2022, said it would "improve access to education, leisure and work" for under-22s "while supporting the adoption of sustainable travel behaviours early in their lives".


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