Shetland MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat, Beatrice Wishart asked the transport minister in a portfolio question session whether the Scottish Government would commit to extending free under-22s fares for buses to internal island ferries, which are relied upon in the same manner. The transport minister did not commit to the ask.
From 31st January 2022 residents in Scotland aged between 5-21 years will be eligible for free bus travel. Shetland’s outgoing MSYP, Jonathan Dorrat, has campaigned to include inter-island ferries in the new free bus travel policy.
Earlier this month Ms Wishart put down written questions to the Scottish Government asking what consideration it had given to expanding the free bus travel commitment to under-22s as well as the predicted travel distance and projected cost saving for that age group. These questions remain unanswered.
After the session Ms Wishart said:
“The transport minister told me that this was a matter for local authorities to fund. The truth is if the Scottish Government wanted to do this for young islanders they would have committed to do so by now.
“The Scottish Government is leaving under-22s in island communities high and dry. While their Mainland counterparts could theoretically travel the length of Mainland Scotland for free by bus, a short trip from Yell to Unst will continue to cost under-22s.
“This is another example of the Scottish Government’s failure to understand island communities. Young islanders deserve greater respect from the SNP/Green Government.”
Notes to Editors
Ms Wishart’s written questions to the Scottish Government can be found here.