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Applications for bus travel pass for Highlanders under the age of 22 will open in 'early January 2022' says Highland Council - ahead of free travel from January 31 2022

By Louise Glen

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The chairwoman of Highland Council’s economy and infrastructure and education committees are urging young people and families to be ready for the young persons’ free bus travel scheme for under 22s next year.

The scheme, funded by the Scottish Government, will see free travel for five to 21 years old with a valid entitlement card.

From 31 January, nearly a million 5–21-year-olds living in Scotland will be eligible to benefit from for free bus travel.

The scheme will embed sustainable travel behaviours from a young age, open doors to new opportunities, and help to meet the Scottish Government’s target of net zero emissions by 2045.

Children and young people who are 5–21 years old will need a new or replacement National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot National Entitlement Card (Young Scot NEC) to travel for free by bus.

Parents or guardians of 5–15-year-olds must apply on their behalf.

Children under 5 years old already travel for free on commercial bus services and do not need a card.

Cllr Trish Robertson, chairwoman of the economy and infrastructure committee said: “To take advantage of this free travel 5 - 21-year-olds will need a valid entitlement card.

"The key is that the card must be valid therefore you may need a new or replacement card. Check the information out now to ensure that you will be ready to apply when applications open in early January 2022.”

Chairman of education committee, Cllr John Finlayson added: “Bus travel is for many young people living in Highland is their key mode of transport and anything that can support them to have access to travel and meet the costs has to be welcomed. To this end I would encourage all young people to ensure that they have the proper card that will allow them to make use of their free bus entitlement.”

A council spokeswoman said: "Full details on how to apply will be advertised in January 2022.

"The Scottish Government continues to work with its partners at the Improvement Service – who is accountable for the NEC Scheme - and National Entitlement Card Programme Office – who is responsible for the management of the NEC and support local authorities with the application process – and Young Scot to deliver the scheme, which will become operational on 31 January 2022.

"You must have a valid National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot National Entitlement Card (Young Scot NEC) that is in good working order. The photograph on the card must look like you (if your NEC or Young Scot NEC includes a photo) to travel by bus for free.

"Children aged under the age of five years do not need to apply for a card as they already travel for free on commercial bus services across Scotland."

She added: "Lots of children and young people already have an NEC or Young Scot NEC. However, this cannot be used to travel by bus for free. You must replace this or get a new one to travel by bus for free.

"How you do this depends on what age you are: a parent or guardian must apply on behalf of 5–15-year-olds and provide approval for them to travel for free by bus, 16–21-year-olds can apply themselves.

"Applications open in early January 2022."

READ: Highland police issue appeal for information after an incident of alleged 'wilful fireraising' in Merkinch that shockingly took place at the front door of a property in Brown Street, Inverness

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